The rapid gathering of friends, family, or colleagues using technologies such as cell phones, pagers, and instant messaging.
Social swarms are easily the most common and intriguing [types of swarms] for most people. "Cities are important places for young people who want to meet other people of the appropriate gender for purposes of mating," Rheingold says. "But also, they're developing their social networks. In Tokyo, they flock to fast-food joints. In Stockholm, it might be a hotel with a really nice bar."
Social swarming involves sharing your life with others in real time. It means pulsing to the rhythm of life with one's posse. It means a nonstop emotional connection to one's swarm.
—Joel Garreau, "Cell Biology," The Washington Post, July 31, 2002
Once we were classed as highbrow or lowbrow; now, more of us are no-brow, able to listen to Alban Berg back-to-back with Abba, or watch Arsenal in the afternoon and Aida in the evening. Global media have changed the way we form communities, and the speed at which they grow, a phenomenon known as "social swarming".
—Stuart Price, "Pick of the Week," The Independent, November 24, 2001
Social swarming is a special case of the larger idea of swarming, the leaderless gathering and moving of like-minded people (a so-called smart mob) using technologies such as cell phones. Joel Garreau's article, cited above, also provides a nice example of this non-social swarming:
Swarming is also the hallmark of the Critical Mass smart mobs on bicycles that clog Washington streets the first Friday of most months, protesting the effects of the automobile.
"The people up front and the people in back are in constant communication, by cell phone and walkie-talkies and hand signals," says Eidinger. "Everything is played by ear. On the fly, we can change the direction of the swarm 230 people, a giant bike mass. That's why the police have very little control. They have no idea where the group is going."
Joel Garreau, "Cell Biology," The Washington Post, July 31, 2002