I've seen a few good flash mobs in my day. San Francisco lends itself to the strange, including the simultaneous zombie mob and Critical Mass bike ride, which was chronicled by CNET's Declan McCullagh a few months ago. But what if you don't feel like riding a bike, or eating brains? Do sandwiches and potato salad sound better? Picnicmob is a new site full of questions like that--30 in fact. Answering them will help the service figure out where to sit you, in a virtual grid of picnic goers in an upcoming mass picnic flash mob, taking place in five major cities across the U.S.
Is this a match up service? Kind of. Picnicmob's approach is a little bit like eHarmony, the popular dating site that matches people up based on a compatibility test. Most of Picnicmob's questions revolve around social predilections about art, music, and entertainment. They also ask you the tough ones like your stance on sharing food and whether you're able to tolerate children and pets. The hope is that the system will be able to group together units of people who aren't going to rub each other the wrong way, although the exact algorithm isn't revealed.
When each city gets 1,000 signups, the Picnicmob team goes to work. As long as you've registered your answers with an e-mail address, they'll provide you with a time and place. This is the only part where I can see trouble brewing--getting people to choose a date that works for them. Services like MyPunchBowl have gotten around this with their multi-date chooser. Ideally Picnicmob will employ a similar system to avoid no-shows when it comes time for the big event.