Update your bookmarks!
Gerry Canavan's blog has moved.

Dear Friends,
Due to unfortunate considerations of time and cost, Backwards City is no longer a print journal. However, we will maintain our presence on the web that, however meager, we hope you might enjoy.

Who We Are
How to Subscribe
Submission Guidelines
Support BCR


Email Us * RSS/XML Feed

Lit Blogs [+/-]
Rake's Progress
Tingle Alley
The Elegant Variation
Arts & Letters Daily
Yankee Pot Roast
Poetry Daily
Verse Daily
Literary Journals [+/-]
AGNI Magazine
Alaska Quarterly Review
Bat City Review
Ballyhoo Stories
Bellevue Literary Review
Black Mountain Review
Black Warrior Review
Blue Mesa Review
Born Magazine
Can We Have Our Ball Back?
Carolina Quarterly
Cincinnati Review
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art
Creative Nonfiction
CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry
Denver Quarterly
Dos Passos Review
Exquisite Corpse
Forklift, Ohio
Fourteen Hills
Fourth Genre
Ghoti Magazine
Glimmer Train
Gulf Coast
Harpur Palate
Hayden's Ferry Review
Hunger Mountain
Ink & Ashes
Instant City
Land-Grant College Review
LIT Magazine
Mid-American Review
Missouri Review
New England Review
New Orleans Review
NOÖ Journal
Octopus Magazine
One Story
Orchid: A Literary Review
Oxford American
Paris Review
Pettycoat Relaxer
Plaztik Press
Poets & Writers
Post Road
Professor Barnhardt's Journal
Red Mountain Review
River City
River Teeth
Rosebud Magazine
Roux Magazine
Santa Monica Review
Sewanee Theological Review
Sonora Review
South Loop Review
Spire Press
Talking River
The Atlantic Monthly
The Baltimore Review
The Capilano Review
The Chattahoochee Review
The Florida Review
The Formalist
The Georgia Review
The Greensboro Review
The Iowa Review
The Kennesaw Review
The Literary Review
The New Yorker
The South Carolina Review
The Southeast Review
The Sycamore Review
Threepenny Review
Tin House
Comics [+/-]
Dial B for Blog
Monitor Duty
Comic Treadmill
Scott McCloud
The Comics Reporter
Paperback Reader
Exploding Dog
Toothpaste for Dinner
A Lesson Is Learned but the Damage Is Irreversible
Pop Culture [+/-]
Ain't It Cool News
Television Without Pity
The Dust Congress
Meta [+/-]
Boing Boing
Gravity Lens
The Show (with Ze Frank)
Games [+/-]
Jay Is Games
Little Fluffy Industries
Grand Text Auto
Our Writers[+/-]
Issue 6
David Axe & Matt Bors
Eric Greinke
B.J. Hollars
Cynthia Luhrs
T. Motley
Lynne Potts
Peter Schwartz
Sarah Solie
Jennie Thompson
NOÖ Journal"
Reene Wells
Issue 5">Idiot Comics

Ira Joel Haber
Jonathan Baylis & David Beyer Jr.
Kathleen Rooney
Issue 4
Kristy Bowen
Abigail Cloud
Will Dinski
Toothpaste for Dinner
The Flowfield Unity
Tom K
Dispatches from Roy Kesey
Austin Kleon
Kristi Maxwell
Marc McKee
Sheryl Monks
Renee Wells
Issue 3
Rafael �vila
Lynda Barry
Melissa Jones Fiori
Eric Joyner
Jonathan Lethem
Brian MacKinnon
Clay Matthews
Jesse Reklaw
Matthew Simmons
Amish Trivedi
Debbie Urbanski
Bart Vallecoccia
Issue 2
Jeremy Broomfield
Nick Carbo
Adam Clay
Kurtis Davidson
Lisa Jarnot
Patricia Storms
Chris Vitiello
Issue 1
Tom Chalkley
Peter S. Conrad
Cory Doctorow
Arielle Greenberg
Gabriel Gudding
Paul Guest
John Latta
K. Silem Mohammad
Jim Rugg
Marcus Slease
Tony Tost
Kurt Vonnegut
Friends & Associates [+/-]
UNCG Writing Program
Meme Therapy
Desert City Poetry Series
The Regulator Bookshop
Mac's Backs Paperbacks
Bull's Head Bookstore
Quail's Ridge Books
McIntyre's Fine Books
Chop Suey Books
McNally Robinson Bookstore
Adams Books
The Writer's Center Book Gallery
Project Pulp
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Small Beer Prees
Ed Cone
The Green Bean
New York Pizza
Triangle Bloggers
Greensboro 101
PClem's Music Blog
Our Frappr Map

May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
December 2007
March 2008
July 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
October 2009
November 2009

Copyright © 2004-2007 Backwards City Publications of Greensboro.

All rights reserved.
Thursday, March 09, 2006

Die Hipsters Die!, or, On the Experimental Origins of the Flash Mob
I'm a bit late on this by internet hipster standards, but Harper's Online is serializing Bill Wasik's very interesting essay from its latest issue on the not-entirely-in-earnest origins of the "flash mob," which Wasik invented more or less as a test to see what sorts of silly things he could get hipsters to do for no good reason. It turns out to be rather a lot; the conformist impulse is alive and well in Hipstertown.

Parts 1 through 3 are up so far; two parts remain. It's quite good. My favorite passage has been the discussion of Stanley Milgram in Part 2:
When a British art magazine asked me who, among artists past or present, had most influenced the flash-mob project, I named Stanley Milgram—the social psychologist best known for his authority experiments, in which he induced average Americans to give seemingly fatal shocks to strangers. As it happens, I later discovered that Milgram himself did a project much like a flash mob, in which a “stimulus crowd” of his confederates, varying in number from one to fifteen, stopped on a busy Manhattan sidewalk and all at once looked up to the same sixth-floor window. The results can be seen in Figure 4, a chart from his paper “Note on the Drawing Power of Crowds of Different Size.”

Stanley Milgram deserves recognition, I believe, as one of the crucial artists of the preceding century. Consider his crowd experiment, which, it must be admitted, is fairly thin gruel as science: everyone knows that such an effect would be observed, and what value is there in quantifying it? No, the value of this experiment is entirely in its performance, the unadorned audacity of it, a small crowd in simple unison bucking the city's flow—a Fluxus-style “happening” but without the blinkered optimism, and in that respect closer, perhaps, to a Ray Johnson “nothing.” Milgram's crowd study was far less explanatory than it was expressive, serving as an elegant metaphor for conformism while adding little to our scientific understanding of who conforms or why.
On an unrelated note, the current issue of Harper's also has a long article by Celia Farber that is the first AIDS denialist piece I can recall seeing in a mainstream outlet. You can't read the article without buying the magazine, but you can read the angry responses for free.

I wish I knew the science better so I could make a more informed judgment about the merits of the AIDS denial movement. The article seemed very persuasive, but of course deceptive anti-science rhetoric usually is. It can sometimes be very hard for a layperson to draw a line between "reasoned, intelligent criticism of the mainstream scientific community" and "crank pseudoscience." UPDATE: Just noticed Jess at Bookslut has a good roundup of key links in the Harper's-AIDS-denialism controversy.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?