Fun, and Silly Activities Became Fashionable

This is an age of innovation. Recently, more and more people are devoted into activities that is fun, infeasible before, requiring combined effort of many people, but not SO useful.

Example 1: Degree Confluence Project

The goal of the Degree Confluence Project (blocked in China) is to visit every integer longitude and latitude point on the Earth, take pictures and write visit log. I participated by contributing an incomplete visit to 30N 119E.

Example 2: Geocaching

The game for anyone with a GPS to hide some caching anywhere in the world, post the details about it onto Internet and others with GPS visit the place and find out the caching. The finding of the cache is also posted on to the website. It has been a popular sport worldwide already.

Example 3: Flashmob

Flashmob is even crazy. Hundreds of people come to a place from different directions and do something really silly at exactly the same time, then disappear quickly. They may shout out loudly in a shopping mall or rush into a toy store to worship a huge dinosaur model. No matter what they do, they will disappear quickly before people understand what is going on and leave shocked people there. The activities were organized on blogs and BBS. If I were 5 years younger, I must have joined them.

Example 4: Send Your Name to Mars Program

This is the most reasonable (but still not useful) activities among the four is the Send Your Name to Mars Program. John Lee, the owner of this project at NASA is a genius to think about this idea when he was asked to engage as many people as possible into the Mars mission. About 4 million names were collected online and sent to Mars. My name was among them.

More and More Community Activities

These fun sports (if I can call Flashmob sports) have something in common:

  • Many people are involved.
  • Communication is done online and offline activities is often involved.
  • The result is typically not productive. It does not generate anything really valuable, but just like sports, they are fun and make people happier.
  • They reached tipping point already as you and me already know it.

Eric and Steven told me about the flashmob today at dinner table and asked: Why people are eager to do silly things like this? It is a very good question which I don’t have answer yet. I can understand the excitement of the people involved but cannot tell a reason. Can you?

P.S. I also started two projects of the same kind: The Bus Stop Project (to take a picture of all bus stops in Shanghai) and the Shanghai Map Viewer (to make a map of ourselves by pinning our own points) I just don’t have enough time to work on it.

3 Comments

  1. Another interesting piece today! With the help of GPS and digital image, the earth is getting smaller and smaller. Those projects are not SO useful only becasue they are so YOUNG. Think about the Internet, is it very useful to the general public when it’s 5 years old? I believe you will be amazed by the power of those projects after 5 years :)

  2. Yes. There is a tipping point for anything popular. Muzimei is an example, according to Isaac Mao, that she has been there without much attention from the world, but one day, just like a match stick was ignited, everyone knows the woman. It is the DoS (Deny of Service) attack. Is it a virus? A virus that runs in the brain of people?

    I hope they will came out something really useful soon, maybe in 5 years.

  3. Johetsine Chin Lee Chien

    February 7, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Do you have Cartoon Picture

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