Earthquakes and wisdom of the crowd

Last week, a senior Iranian cleric claimed that earthquakes are caused by the promiscuous behaviour of women.

Such a claim produced guffaws and countless Twitter retweets in probably most places outside Iran.

Now Mashable reports on how a Facebook group called Boobquake plans to test the cleric’s theory through an event taking place today. Mashable says it’s designed to embarrass the cleric if a significant increase in earthquakes does not occur.

[…] The event has more than 177,000 “confirmed” guests and 57,000 “maybes.” There’s also a Facebook page [Explicit Images] that has been liked by more than 37,000 users, and a Twitter hashtag called #boobquake that’s getting several updates per minute. Boobquake has been all over the mainstream media, and merchandise is already rolling out – t-shirts and the like.

What started out as a private joke among friends, according to originator Jen McCreight, has morphed into something that looks like taking on a life of its own.

Setting aside the voyeur aspects of the Facebook page and how some may see this as crass commercialization (you can buy a t-shirt although it’s clearly stated that profits from sales support charities), not to mention exploitation of a negative stereotype, the fact remains that it’s a great example of how anyone with just an idea that others can identify with can mobilize opinion into action via a social networking site.

Precisely the kind of thing Clay Shirky talks about in Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

    • neville

      As I understand it, Matthew, the goal of the event today is to disprove the Iranian cleric on women’s promiscuity being the cause of an increase in earthquakes.

      If the one you point out in Taiwan is the only one reported today, then advantage cleric!

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