Today's event in Boston was absolutely tragic. I actually was crying this afternoon about it because I can only imagine what it would be like to have had a loved one running the marathon as an unexpected victim of an attack like this.
But I also can't help but notice something: if this is indeed a terrorist attack (which it appears to be), then technology has truly allowed for a completely different treatment and response from the public as it relates to this particular disaster.
Over the past two years I've read pieces about how 9/11 would have been different if technology now were the same back then. Here are two links to similar articles:
We have to stop and think for a moment about how different our technology world truly is nowadays compared to 2001: we have cameras on smart phones, YouTube, Facebook, omnipresence of mobile technology and texting, a Twitterati... I think today serves an excellent example of how the times have indeed changed for the better when it comes to disaster relief and galvanizing the public in such efforts.
We found out about the disaster here in Houston because of Twitter faster than the traditional news sources could report on its details. Those affected by the tragedy can find places to stay and report upon/discover information on missing people because of Google technologies. The Reddit community triple-checks the facts and mobile phone photos/videos and compiles it on a thread. We can check on our loved ones via Facebook and/or mobile technologies not previously available ten years ago. Small but widespread preventative measures - like Bostonians opening up their wifi ports to increase connectivity in the region - take root virally. Information exchange on the perpetrators can be called for and filtered online. The president can make a video that everyone gets to see because of YouTube.
From the smart phones we so religiously cradle to "the Facebook" we're classically conditioned to cling to when procrastinating, some may complain about the omnipresence of technology in the everyday lives of our generation. But I would argue that in times of disaster, these societal mainstays are not only properly alerting the international public and aggregating accurate up-to-date news, but providing unprecedented interactive tools for allaying fears and taking proper action.
Viva la technology and God Bless :) ♥