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Running, analyzing, and cornering the Boston Marathon Bombing into a stream of comprehensible data has proven difficult over the past week. There is just so much information to comprehend and every bit of it has proven useful in one way or another. The vast amount of mobile devices and closed circuit cameras with an eye on the bombing have led to this abundance of digital content. Legacy news outlets like CNN and NBC have had their hands full against the Internet.

But in the end, this pile of data has led us right into the mirth of the civilian's role in a time of disaster. There is no point in ignoring the facts; we would not have gotten this far without social media and the Internet's voice as a complimentary news outlet to the big time news agencies.

The smartphone as the multifaceted interface of texts, calls, and Internet capabilities has once again proven that the civilian's role in a time of disaster is edging closer to journalism. But this isn't news, it's just more obvious now.

The sheer mass of connected devices in the area surrounding the explosion has led us straight into the heart of the ruthlessness that is the Tsarnaev brothers, the alleged conspirators who devised the explosion. Yet in the moments following the bombing, society found a truth in mobile technology by trending #OneBoston. And without mobile tech, it would not have gone down like this. There wouldn't have been a voice without the apps on our smartphones providing us a platform to speak upon.

I don't think I'm alone in thinking social media has become my number one source for news. The platform Twitter was built upon has largely made it a surreal way to engage in events as they're happening. Look to CNN's false reporting debacle and you'll find that anyone on the ground in Boston was a source thanks to the smartphone.

You'll find even more ways to engage in breaking news if you search hard enough. There are Police Scanners broadcasting information in real-time. There are closed circuit cameras providing a bird's-eye view of Boston. All you need is a smartphone, or computer to partake in the action.

But at the end of the day, it has been social media sources like Twitter and Vine that have sold the smartphone's capabilities in journalism, and I am happy I follow this industry as closely as I do.

It's easy to get caught up in megapixel count and processor cores of each new device and forget that each smartphone has the same subset of functions. I am in no way, shape or form saying the mobile industry shouldn't be as competitive an industry as it is. Without the technological prowess and research put into each and every new device, we might not be salivating over 468ppi displays, or 8-Core mobile phone CPU's. I'm just here to point out the fact that while we remain connected to blazing fast 4G LTE download speeds and gawk at 5.5-inch displays, at the end of the day, the smartphone has harbored "citizen journalism" to the point of no return.

Thanks, phone.

The issue surely to be discussed once the Boston Marathon Bombing has left the prime time spotlight will not be the "bad reporting" from Reddit, 4Chan, and Twitter over the past 48 hours, but rather the point at which legacy media reporting has confronted the Internet's key advantages in breaking news. Often times, citizen reporting even portrays information more accurately, but only if the facts trend.

And it didn't take long before I noticed facts quickly become a by-product by nature of breaking news. Both sides of reporting have faulted along the way, with the NY Post posting the wrong images of suspects and claiming arrests, to Twitter trending #ManOnRoof for no apparent reason.

At the end of the day, this abundance of reporting has once again put social media and the smartphone on a pedestal. There will be arguments about social media diverging attention from verified information to the disadvantage of immediacy. And there is clearly going to be a confrontation between legacy media and "citizen reporting" after we can sit down and marinate in the facts. 

But when it's all said and done, the smartphone was the facilitator of connectivity and provided information at a rate I never thought possible. This manhunt lasted four days. The smartphone may have condemned credibility for the sake of immediacy and allowed anyone to weigh-in on the action, but our voices were escalated through the reigns of the Internet without pause, and I'm thankful for the role society played. The smartphone is the real winner here. #HealingIsNext.

Image via FitsNews.


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29 Reactions to this post

"Have you used your smartphone to stay up to date in the Boston Marathon Bombing?"


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Lukasz Dudek I don't care.
Cesar De Los Santos Yeah, my iphone 4S with twitter
Zaka Ur Rehman yeap, on Note 2 Flipboard
Devin Martinez Yeah NYT
Don Stephen Strada II Yeah tunein radio app..appeared by itself on my notifications
Kevin Joel Live tile on my WP8 Lumia 920 reads it out to me.
Jessica Rodriguez Yes pop notification and currents been flashing all day on my iPhone 5
Charlie Ebner Yes, with alerts from AP mobile and USA Today.
Jesse Ling i see plenty of it on the news
Ben Marvin Police scanner through BoomSound all day
Dustin Halnez Currents has been on my phone almost all day.
Francis B Smith III Are you kidding? I have used it so much, I needed my phone tethered to the wall. I like in Massachusetts, I work in Hopkinton so I need to be up to date throughout this whole thing for my own piece of mind.
Charles W. Y. Wong The big screen on the Note II watching CNN is awesome. Battery life at 50%
Jose Be Julme Yes!! Galaxy S3.
Dietrich Brown Yeah used tune in radio app for 7 hours with 3 extra batteries
William Plotner Mhmm. Blinkfeed, yo.
Stephen Victor Can't avoid it on FB and twitter. Even if you don't mean to check in on the latest.
Randy Padilla Scanner radio app....former free app of the day on Amazon
Ayo Q Sipho I use the thing called a TV. Showed a bunch of pictures. Some was even moving :-)
Gilbert King I had iheart radio on and I can also stream live cable tv with orb live and hauppauges Win TV Extend software and their ios app.
Rich Field Yup! Used my BlackBerry z10 to listen to the Boston police scanner on tunedin while the feed was still live. Intense stuff glad they have suspect 2 in custody.
Niels Rafael i watch it on CNN
Kerri Kershaw Yeah...did the same one my PALM on 2001!
Irvin Zamora Using BlinkFeed on my new HTC One for it!
Christopher Williams Been tweeting via my Galaxy SIII all day!
Jordan Michael Rushing Not really. Police scanner & facebook on laptop and local news casts here in Boston




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