I walked into the gym today and saw the row of TV monitors. The first thing I notice is an image of a Moonintie from the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I’ve seen the show a few times, but among the people I know that introduced me to it I’m not nearly the biggest fan. Despite this I still recognized it the character, and since I remember hearing something about an ATHF movie in the works I assumed it was a marketing stunt for the movie. This was all in a glance – a very Gladwellian “Blink” moment.
So after I ‘blink’ they cut back to Lou Dobbs and I read on the closed captions that they have no idea where these have come from and officials have been engaging the bomb squads to blow them up. Shortly after that on CNN I see that they have indeed sorted out the perpetrators and now the coverage turns to why it was done and who to blame. CNN.com summed up the “damage” done by this stunt:
The discovery of nine of the devices around metro Boston led state, local and federal authorities to close the Boston University and Longfellow Bridges, and block boat traffic from the Charles River to Boston Harbor.
In addition, the Pentagon said U.S. Northern Command was monitoring the situation from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but said none of its units were sent to assist.
And Boston’s Mayor chimed in:
Mayor Thomas Menino’s office said nine of the light boards were found around metropolitan Boston.
“I want to be certain that we take all of these reports very seriously,” Menino said in a written statement. “The coordinated response by all departments proves the system we have in place works.”
“The system we have in place works” … Really? It seems like the system is broken. Really broken.
What does this have to do with social software? Nothing, unfortunately. If I was able to spot a Mooninite and at first glance why weren’t the police. Not necessarily individuals in the police department (or the pentagon), but either as a service…
What if instead of closing down the bridges and blowing up these marketing pieces they were able to harness the collective intelligence of all the Adult Swim watchers out there who would have said “its a promotional scheme for ATHF – call Turner broadcasting to verify”?