Like many of you, I am experiencing an interpretation of the riots taking place in London through a mediated lens of retweeted photographs [see image above], blog posts, +1d news articles, and forums sharing freshly sparked memes. Nested commenting across online sources-like this video/blog post/tweet-are rich and inherently different from how information is shared and absorbed than ever before.
The experiences of the urban youth that are engaged in political dissonance, in resistance, in bringing social issues to the foray are, in many ways, retelling a narrative that I’m already uncomfortably familiar with. The prominence of looting and of reprehensible behavior in the dominant narrative here echoes the social discourse of looters during Katrina and Rodney King (events so engrained in America’s consciousness I can signal them through proper nouns only somewhat associated with the events themselves).
As I continue to follow along with what is happening–now geographically distanced from the culturally familiar–I am struck by the fact that this is precisely the urgency for a widespread induction of critical engagement with participatory media and its resulting media literacies in formal schools. Right now, it is the livelihood and well-being of entire communities at stake. Technology’s role in mediating resistance efforts across global channels means that a media literacy today extends directly into illuminating these repeating narratives and in equipping a generation of youth with the tools to successfully interpret, contribute to, and reflect upon the myriad thread of information about physical world activism and protest. A pedagogy of participatory media begins with what is happening in the streets of England right now and empowers educators and students alike in transforming & challenging dominant narratives.