I wasn't there but my two cents worth is that I was surprised at the number of people involved in it. Yes, the media talking point of city officials is "a small number of thugs / hooligans" but that really wasn't the case. Just as audience members at a sports event or concert are part of the event so were the tens of thousands of audience members at last night's event.
(c) refreshement66 on Flickr
Countless amateur photographers, videographers, Tweet-reporters ensured that the spotlight fueled the fires and egos of the core rioters and drunken wannabes, not to mention kept emergency workers at bay.
Today there is an interesting editorial on The Tyee today. In A Social Media Riot Made for TV, Mark Leiren-Young writes that the "lust for digital attention" was a key driving force of crowds.
It's something I have seen locally on a smaller scale.
I work near a busy intersection in the downtown and on a couple of occasions heard an accident and a couple of minutes later saw maybe one or two motorists helping but three or four passers by standing on the median actively 'capturing the moment' on their smart phones.
The worst thing I saw was a guy lying on the ground just inside a park. I was on the sidewalk across the street so couldn't tell what exactly the issue was. There was nobody helping the guy but there were two passers by using their smart phones (and not the phone part to call 911) and one taking a picture with a point and shoot camera.
Yes ! Document that for your friends. Maybe he'll end up dying and you'll get a great souvenir to add to your Flickr page. Pats on the back from your friends for getting that great shot while, of course, tossing in a throwaway line expressing sympathy for that 'poor guy'.
Photo (c) Jonathan Chiang, Flickr
In an age where anyone with a smartphone can consider themselves a 'citizen journalist' does that mean we can avoid civic responsibility ?
A photo site for riot pictures on Flick has over 16,000 members so far and there are numerous riot facebook pages. I imagine that if you asked each "front line citizen reporter" they would vehemently claim that "I want's part of the riot" when, actually, they were.
And, sadly, those thousands will be there to be part of the next public event that could become violent or to capture a guy lying face down on a sidewalk.
After all, I am not a citizen - I'm a citizen journalist.