Monday, July 6, 2009

Improve Everywhere Does it again with iMobs

By now, we've all seen our fair share of flash mob or public performance videos on youtube. Whether it's a break out musical in a mall food court or an impromptu "Thriller" dance at a crowded park, these stunts have gotten the attention of millions of online viewers.

A traditional flash mob would be something a bit more simple. A note would be placed on craigslist to have everyone reading meet at a certain location at a certain time, and then with a certain cue, perform an action of some kind in unison. Basically, it's using social networks or popular forums to locally spread the word to gain strength in numbers. Seeing 4 people dancing in a local burger king could be shrugged off as "weird". Seeing 400 people suddenly break into dance, and it's something you'd never forget. (starting to see the marketing potential here yet?)

What makes this a new breed of flash mob is the idea of "as you play" instructions given through mobile music devices. So now the organizers have taken it a step further. The mob is still given specific times and places and given simple instructions on what props to bring and clothes to wear. The mob is also instructed to bring their ipod and push play on a downoaded mp3 at an exact moment.

Back at Red Bull, we played with this same basic idea. Someone had thought of a flash mob "silent" dance party on the in zone of a certain popular college campus football field. The word would spread through facebook and Red Bull would cater a party in this very "special" party place at midnight before a big game. Of course, the school wouldn't give an "ok" for this, so the idea of utilizing synchronized ipods came up. The music could be as loud as we wanted in our earphones, yet the partying would be near silent, other than student voices. pretty tricky huh?

The problem was that we were stuck on having an actual DJ be playing and broadcasting the music to the party goers, and that technology was neither cheap or wholly possible w/ mp3 players at that time. Take the DJ out and have people download a "mix" or better yet, have an iphone only party and have the organizers have a shared itunes song list that everyone could jump on and stream. Now the only issue would be how to get everyone on board at EXACTLY the same time. a dance party where everyone is on a different beat, would get old fast :)