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"A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam."
- Frederik Pohl

  A change, a turning point, a reversal of culture and politics.  

In German, die Wende describes the era surrounding the falling of the Berlin Wall and the period preceding reunification.

Sterling says this in the story:

“But strange things happen during a Wende.”

Eddy nodded soberly. “Wendes are very interesting phenomena. CAP- CLUG is studying Wendes. We might like to throw one some day.”

“That’s not how Wendes happen, Eddy. You don’t ‘throw’ a Wende.” Sardelle paused, considering. “A Wende throws you.”

Americans might compare it to the mass demonstrations protesting the Vietnam war in the 1960's.

“But none of those events by itself sounds all that threatening or serious.”

“Not each thing by itself, Eddy, no. But it all happens all at once. That’s what a Wende is like.”

“I don’t get it,” Eddy said. He put his spex back on and lit the menu from within, with a fingersnap. He tapped the spex menu-bar with his right fingertip and light-amplifiers kicked in. The passing crowd, their outlines shimmering slightly from computational effects, seemed to be strolling through an overlit stage-set. “I guess there’s trouble coming from all these outsiders,” Eddy said, “but the Germans themselves seem so . . . well ... so good-natured and tidy and civilized. Why do they even have Wendes?”

“It’s not something we plan, Eddy. It’s just something that happens to us.” Sardelle sipped her coffee.

“How could this happen and not be planned?”

“Well, we knew it was coming, of course. Of course we knew that. Word gets around. 'That’s how Wendes start.” She straightened her napkin. “You can ask the Critic, when you meet him. He talks a lot about Wendes. He knows as much as anyone, I think.”

“Yeah, I’ve read him,” Eddy said. “He says that it’s rumor, boosted by electronic and digital media, in a feedback-loop with crowd dynamics and modem mass transportation. A nonlinear networking phenomenon. 'That much I understand!"

From Deep Eddy, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by Asimov's Science Fiction in 1993
Additional resources -

Compare to a flash crowd (flash mob) from Flash Crowd (1972) by Larry Niven.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Deep Eddy
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