Rosianna Halse Rojas
Imagine you’re a child in a bookshop. The shelves are so high and stretch forever. You’re looking for something, something familiar and comfortable. They’re not allowed to roam. THere’s an adult there, saying “too old, too young, too boy, too girl”. There’s a linear progression of age-appropriate books you are pushed through. The layout of a bookshop is restrictive.
We see that even in the way we assess reading comprehension. It becomes about repetition rather than conversation. When she was younger, she was a big reader. But the adults were always trying to push her to the next stage. They were trying to get her to the next reading age – a phrase which mystifies her. “I read my baby Proust” she overheard once… Between iterations of Harry Potter, she just reread the exiting volumes again and again. Her parents and teachers were frustrated.
And then she found YouTube. She watched videos, but didn’t connect it with her life. She found one called “What impact has Harry Potter had on your life?” and through the video reposes a new world opened up to her. She wanted to take part, to be part of that conversation. She had found people who shared her enthusiasm with them. YouTube became a real outlet for this conversation. She started doing her videos when her parents were out of the house.
She’s a nerd-fighter, someone who promotes intellectualism and critical thinking when we approach the world.
The community she met came with her when she started making her own videos. They exchanged debates, they supported her through the GCSEs. They helped her when her father passed away. They were people who hadn’t found people who understood their enthusiasms around them – but had online.
We’ve heard so much in recent years about format – about eBooks. But we’re missing out how the format can make things les restrictive, that creates an environment that creates creativity. It seems to be internet or reading – engaged or distracted. It’s a popular way of thinking about social media. She has seen it to be completely false. There are huge communities of people wanting to discuss and create online – and who have turned that into business.
The internet doesn’t mean distraction, it means creation, collaboration and responses.