Smart crowds – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

Intelligent crowds are understood as the ability of human beings to act together without knowing each other in person using modern information technologies.

In other words, intelligent crowds refer to the form of organization that is generated spontaneously through the use of the Internet and mobile devices. This can cause collective mobilizations or social demonstrations demanding something or supporting the same ends. This is achieved through the collection of information, the publication of messages and the organization of mobilizations. Mobilizations can be at the national or international level.

Indeed, the idea is to spread a problem and find a solution, provoking a new form of social organization. This new form of social organization originates and is structured by means of new information and communication technologies.

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What are smart crowds?

Where does the term smart mobs come from?

To begin with, smart crowds is a term coined by Howard Rheingold in his book titled “Smart mobs: The Next Social Revolution” (Intelligent Crowds: “The Next Social Revolution”). This book was published in the year 2002. The term that was originally used in the English language to refer to intelligent mobs is Smart mobswhich in Spanish can be translated as crowd or intelligent crowd.

For Rheingold, intelligent crowds are produced as a result of the evolution and development of information and communication technologies. Therefore, what empowers people are new technologies.

Who is Howard Rheingold?

Howard Rheingold is an American professor born on July 7, 1947 in Phoenix, Arizona. Rheingold has conducted critical studies on new technologies. Above all, he specializes in studying the cultural, political and social implications produced by the use of new technologies.

Without a doubt, he is one of the main exponents of the study of virtual communities. He has served as a professor at the universities of Berkeley and Stanford in the United States. He expresses an optimistic position about the social consequences caused by new technologies, considering that they produce the creation of a decentralized democracy that gives rise to the formation of a global community.

Characteristics of smart crowds

Among the most important characteristics of smart crowds we find:

  • It is a new way of socializing using technology: It is a new way of socializing that occurs as a result of the development and evolution of new information and communication technologies.
  • gain social or political power: Smart mobs come to grant social and political power to people, either personally or in groups.
  • Members have common interests: The linked or related individuals that make up smart mobs have common interests, so they are not simple users.
  • The growth of smart crowds is exponential: Diffusion through networks makes the number of members grow, not arithmetically, but exponentially. That is, it not only adds members, but the members multiply.
  • They are smart organizations: When people are linked in the network they receive information, make decisions and then act, so they do not simply obey a centralized order.
  • They are decentralized organizations: A person only responds to an idea or information they receive when they agree with it. This helps to generate participative, conscious and responsible societies.
  • They organize spontaneously: Members of smart mobs link together in unplanned ways via the Internet and mobile devices. They are people who interrelate freely and voluntarily, but who pursue a common goal.
  • Smart crowds generate collective actions or mobilizations: This is achieved even though all members are spatially dispersed in the global environment. However, it can lead to demonstrations of people coming together physically.

Importance of technology in smart crowds

It is important to mention that smart crowds develop and are possible thanks to the use of technology. Of course, the new technology is becoming more accessible and cheaper for people. Thus, its low costs have allowed it to be within the reach of most people in the world.

Among these types of modern technologies we can include:

  • The Internet.
  • Digital communication platforms such as blogs, chats and web pages.
  • Social networks.
  • Mobile devices, computers and tablets.

People use new technology to share data, images, texts, opinions and information in general. This generates a network of information and communication, making it possible for a type of coordination and social organization to take place.

Indeed, in intelligent crowds, the actors are flesh and blood people who interact freely and voluntarily to achieve a common goal. For this reason, communication produces points of union and provokes a shared identity, making it an inclusive process apart from being an interactive process.

In conclusion, it can be said that technology allows smart crowds to develop. Thus, although the global community is very large, through technology people can interact. This facilitates connectivity, coordination and social organization. The possibility that people can connect at different times and places sharing knowledge allows the development of collective actions of participation and collaboration. This new social organization acquires greater potential and strength.

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