Flash Crowd

"Flash Crowd" is a 1973 English language novella by science fiction author Larry Niven, one of a series about the social consequence of inventing an instantaneous, practically free transfer booth that could take one anywhere on Earth in milliseconds.

One consequence not predicted by the builders of the system was that with the almost instantaneous reporting of newsworthy events, tens of thousands of people worldwide — along with criminals — would flock to the scene of anything interesting, hoping to experience or exploit the instant disorder and confusion so created.

In various other books, for example "Ringworld", Niven suggests that easy transportation might be disruptive to traditional behavior and open the way for new forms of parties, spontaneous congregations, or shopping trips around the world.

Other reading

*"Flash Crowd" is on pages 99-164 of the paperback edition of "The Flight of the Horse", copyright 1973 by Larry Niven. The story (or parts of it) was originally published as "Flash Crowd" in "Three Trips in Time and Space", copyright 1973 by Robert Silverberg, ed.
*"The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club" is on pages 41-52 of the paperback edition of "A Hole in Space", copyright 1974 by Larry Niven.
*Other stories in this series are in these two books and in "All the Myriad Ways".

On the web

On the World Wide Web, a similar phenomenon can occur, when a web site catches the attention of a large number of people, and gets an unexpected and overloading surge of traffic. This usage was first coined by John Pettitt of Beyond.com in 1996. Notorious examples include the Slashdot effect, the "Instalanche" (when a smaller site gets links by the extremely popular blog Instapundit), or a website being Farked (where the target site is crashed due to the large number of hits in a short time). See [http://www.useit.com/hotlist/spotlight2001.html hints] how to deal with flash crowds (search for crowds keyword).

ee also

* Flash mob, real-life phenomenon involving crowds gathering suddenly.
* Slashdot effect, analogous phenomenon in the context of web traffic.


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