Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Silicon Valley - Random Acts of Social Media

"Flash Mobs" and "Random Acts of Culture" have become internationally popular "spontaneous" public events in recent years.

Some of the most widely viewed Youtube flash mob events were arranged in 2009 by T. Mobile, with over 25 million hits for the T-Mobile Dance held at Liverpool Station in London, plus my favorite, 13,500 people Singing "Hey Jude" in London's Trafalgar Square. The most recent 2010 T-Mobile event, "The T-Mobile Welcome Back," was a surprise event for arriving travelers at Healthrow Airport's Terminal 5 in London. Although the 2010 event is tightly chorepgraphed, the awed expressions on the faces of the public are the real draw of these T-Mobile promotional events.

The popularity and mainstreaming of these events has led to some wonderful holiday surprises, as non-profits and local musical groups have organized flash mobs and random acts of "spontaneous" cultural events in their own communities.

It is not often that we may be surprised with the unexpected gift of joy and beauty, or the generosity of our fellow man, especially during the busy holiday season in cramped and crowded malls. These videos will gladden your heart, whatever your religious beliefs, as they illustrate how joy may be found in the most unlikely places, when we least expect a magical and remarkable gift to appear.

This lovely Hallelujah Chorus surprise took place at Seaway Mall in Niagra Falls Ontario, Canada, on Nobvember 13, 2010:

Our own Symphony Silicon Valley Chorus surprised San Jose shoppers with a Random Act of Culture at Westfield Valley Fair Mall last November, with this performance of Amazing Grace:

The most stunning event took place at Macy's when, as their site states, on "Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers. This event is one of 1,000 "Random Acts of Culture" to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years."

Not only has social media changed how we connect in crowds, with spontaneous events and online with uploaded videos, but it could have changed how the Christmas story unfolded, if the birth of Jesus had taken place in 2010.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley giants are featured in this witty and clever video which retells a "Digital Story of the Nativity - or Christmas 2.0," (once you get past the ad) using social media:

Happy Holidays,

---C. D. Alexander, Silicon Valley Librarian