The View from MIT on the Boston Marathon Explosions

    by Chris Peterson
    April 16, 2013

    Here’s what we know:

    At 2:50 p.m. two explosions occurred along on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Police later detonated a third device further down the street.

    As of 6 p.m., two people are dead, and nearly 90 injured, according to the Boston Globe. At MIT’s Civic Media Center, we have been following along through both broadcast and social media, including the Globe’s liveblog and Completure’s News Scanner.


    The Boston Marathon is one of the country’s pre-eminent sporting events. It draws athletes and spectators into the beating heart of one of the world’s best cities.


    Civic is located almost directly across the river from where the explosions occurred. The blasts were audible from the MIT campus. Members of the immediate Civic family have checked in. Some were at the marathon. All are safe.

    Not everyone has been lucky enough to contact their loves ones as we have. On the Boston Marathon website you may search for runners and check their status. Google has launched an instance of their People Finder for the emergency. The Red Cross’ Safe and Well system appears at the moment to have been overwhelmed by demand.

    Geeks Without Bounds is maintaining a Google Doc of resources, including spreadsheets where people can both offer and request housing.


    I write this as a native. My mother grew up in Everett. My father grew up in Melrose. Like my Civic colleague Matt Stempeck, who attended the marathon today, I was born in Reading. I love Boston. I love its people. I love its tradition. It is my home. My heart hurts. And then I think of Carlos Arredondo.

    Carlos Arredondo by Andy Carvin and shared under the Creative Commons license.

    Arredondo became a peace activist in 2004 after he lost one son in Iraq and his other committed suicide in grief. A Costa Rican emigrant, he became a citizen in 2006 with the help of the late Ted Kennedy. He happened to be near the finish line today and rushed to assist first responders. A man who has suffered such loss, such grief, continuing to do all that he can to help other members of the nation he can now call his own.

    i-f07878c67208d891b8d1c23b0986d3c2-mit.jpgTochtli_exe)" /><div class="wp-caption-text">MIT stands with victims and families. A hacked Green Building, displaying a U.S. Flag, faces Boston. Credit: Rogelio Alejandro Lopez (Tochtli_exe)

    Arredondo gives me hope. He reminds me that, despite all evidence to the contrary, there is good in the world. As did Patton Oswalt, the acerbic comic, who today wrote some words I will try to always remember: “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’”

    As a wise man once said:


    RELATED READING: Social Media Offers Vital Updates, Support After Boston Marathon Bombings

    Chris Peterson is on leave from MIT’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, where he has spent three years directing web communications, to be a full-time graduate student in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. In addition to overseeing all web and new media activities for MITAdmissions, Chris liaised with FIRST Robotics and had a special focus on subaltern, disadvantaged, and first-generation applicants. He continues to be involved with MIT’s awesome undergraduates as a freshman advisor. Before MIT, Chris worked as a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and as a Senior Campus Rep for Apple. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship, as an Associate at the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, and as the sole proprietor of BurgerMap.org. He holds a B.A. in Critical Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he completed his senior thesis on Facebook privacy under Professors Ethan Katsh and Alan Gaitenby. He is interested generally in how people communicate within digitally mediated spaces and occasionally blogs at cpeterson.org.

    A version of this post originally appeared on the MIT Center for Civic Media blog.

    Tagged: bombings boston globe boston marathon civic media center mit red cross

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