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August 17, 2003

From inexplicable mobs... to explicable mobs 

A few days ago I blogged on the subject of flash mobs or inexplicable mobs. Gatherings of humans apparently for the sheer joy of connection. Now I've spent a little time exloring Meetup, a website that allows people all over the world to identify common interests with other web users, and then arrange to meet in person. Explicable mobs, if you will.

Several of the Beyond Branding authors have talked for some time about brands of the future being more like hosts than conventional badged producers of stuff. MeetUp may be just such a phenomenon. A quick tour of their site sees the myriad of miniature communities forming worldwide. This National Public Radio broadcast starts by focussing on a gathering of Pug owners, but you'll find bookcrossing, political groups, language groups, yoga groups... all of human life seems catered for.

What are also emerging are user groups. For instance, I'm interested in Movable Type as an advanced participative weblog package (sorry Blogger, but I like to keep options open). I've found a meeting of London-based users next month. Probably the ideal place to go with my questions.

What Meetup does is to combine the high tech of the web with the high touch of face-to-face meetings.

This is just another example of how customers can now form their own communities, and share their learning, completely independently of brands. Once again, the admass model is challenged and the pressure mounts on organisations to reorganise themselves as more open communities than fixed, packaged, manicured brands.
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