With riots and looting breaking out all over London earlier this week, media outlets have been poring over how the violence spread. We were amongst the first to identify the BlackBerry mobile handset and its unique, private Blackberry Messaging service (BBM) as a method whereby rioters and looters, many of them teenagers, broadcast and swapped information in a way that effectively crowd-sourced the riots. Today, in 2011, the BlackBerry is by far the most popular handset amongst Britain youth.
The BBM service lay at the core of how word of the riots spread. The Guardian also found plenty of evidence of BlackBerrys being used to “organise” the violence. So what role has BlackBerry BBM played in the violence?
I met up with a contact, who we will call Paul. Paul grew up in North London, amongst the kinds of people involved in the riots, though he himself was not involved. But he remains intimately connected with his community. He told me about the mobile culture amongst London’s urban youth and how obsessed it is with the BlackBerry. The recorded interview is also available below.