The cartoon protests: Smart mobs at work?

Are the protests over Danish editorial cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad the latest graphic example of smart mobs? One report suggests that is the case, citing Syrian protestors.

“‘The sheikhs told us to send five text messages to every true Muslim we knew urging them to participate,’ said a student from the Abu Nour Islamic Institute in Damascus.”

Interesting. (And thanks to Jon Garfunkel for the link.) The BBC also provides welcome perspective on the controversy.

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at


  1. The conjunction of the words “smart mobs” is a book title and no more; the theory that technology alone makes mobs smarter is pure folly. This WaPo article tomorrow by Kevin Sullivan (and 8 contributors!) is more in line of what I was getting at:

    Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen:
    “We are confronted by misinformation passed on by mobile messages and Web logs at such high speed that it is picked up and acted upon before we have a chance to correct it.”

    Abdul-Rehman Malik, a contributing editor of Q-News, a popular Muslim magazine in Britain, said he had received hundreds of e-mails and dozens of text messages about the cartoons. He said some messages were computer-generated so that thousands of phones could be reached nearly instantly, such as one telling him to reply “no” to a British TV survey about whether to broadcast the cartoons.

    Otherwise known as spam, propaganda, etc.

  2. True. But I was trying to use a familiar term for the concept of mobile device-prompted gatherings. (Even though it is a lousy term, agreed….)