UQLIC NewsFlashMob 2011

On April 14 2011, about 60 Communication, Journalism, and Media Studies students at the University of Queensland St Lucia campus participated in NewsFlashMob 2011. This was the first event for University of Queensland Live Investigations of Communication, a new UQ group with the goal of improving the visibility and cohesion of UQ Communication students. Check out the videos (if they do not appear, refresh the page)!

Short video (3 minutes): YouTube

Long video (18 minutes): Vimeo

UQ Flashmob 2011 from UQ Journalism & Communication on Vimeo.

The UQ Bachelor of Communication is a relatively new degree (less than 10 years) and is run across two Faculties (Arts and Social and Behavioural Science) within which there are many contributing Schools. As such, while it is very rich in content, the challenge is to provide both social and professional coherence for our students. This year Richard Fitzgerald and I decided to work on a new extra-curricular initiative bring Bachelor of Communication students (and those in allied courses of Journalism and Media Studies).

Inspired by Harold Garfinkel’s breaching experiments, Improv Everywhere, and The Yes Men, we have started an informal group called University of Queensland Live Investigations of Communication (UQLIC). For this first event we decided to run an Mp3 Experiment-style event, in which participants follow a set of audio instructions recorded on an mp3 file, all starting the file at a particular time and place. We could not afford to hire Improv Everywhere, but we received Charlie Todd’s permission to use the idea. The organisational benefit of this style of flashmob versus a Sound of Music flashmob is that a small group of organisers did all the preparation (although all students were invited to provide ideas) and the participants just have to download the file, bring a few trivial objects, and turn up on the day. No rehearsal. The interesting thing about an Mp3 experiment style event is that participants’ activities are totally sensible to them but largely silent and senseless to non-participants. As such, they promote cohesion through collaboration and exclusivity. A side-effect, though, is that this is not an audience-focused event. We hope you still enjoy watching the videos though!

The event, called NewsFlashMob involved a range of instructions revolving around the theme of “Be The News”. The participants collaborated over about 25 minutes on a range of short activities that involved either doing things that were newsworthy or were attempts to physically visualise concepts about media use. We conducted a SurveyMonkey survey of the event and preliminary figures indicate that it was well-received (details to come).

The instructions were developed by myself, RF, and a small group of students in an organising committee. The committee also advertised the event on Facebook and in lectures/tutorials, created the Mp3 file, organised video, and ran the event. RF and I are very proud of the student organising group (noted below), who did a tremendous amount of work and learned a lot about the complexities of organising such an event. We all learned about the use of multiple cloud-based social media (Facebook, Google Docs, SoundCloud, Youtube and Vimeo) to distribute work and as aids in co-present meetings. Look for an upcoming journal article about the organisational and pedagogical issues involved.

One of the unexpected but personally very satisfying aspects of the event was that we found a great deal of excellent Creative Commons licensed music to use. Check out the tracks below, they are fantastic!


NewsFlashMob 2011

A UQLIC event

University of Queensland Live Investigations of Communication

Based on the Mp3 Experiment by Improv Everywhere (idea used by permission)

Faculty Organisers

  • Dr. Sean Rintel (School of English, Media Studies, and Communication)
  • Dr. Richard Fitzgerald (School of Journalism and Communication)

Student Organisers

  • Hannah Scott
  • Natassja Bertram
  • Ashleigh Roza
  • Cate Grace Williams
  • Jaya Kinhal
  • Maximillian VonNeumann
  • Steph Enarbia


  • Journalism and Communication Society (JACS)
  • Courtney Phelps
  • Susan McKay
  • Maureen Burns
  • Matthew Peterson and MaPS
  • Charlie Todd and Improv Everywhere


Sound Effects

In memory of Harold Garfinkel (1917 – 2011)

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