When the chaos and destruction of the Boston Marathon bombings erupted into the streets of Cambridge on that April afternoon, sadness, confusion and anger quickly flooded into households across America. When the news broke, I instinctively felt the urge to sign on to Twitter to grab any information I could. When I finally got access to social media, there it was: updates, footage and photographs burned across each and every timeline I could see.
As days passed, many of these photographs were used on Reddit to erroneously call out a group of Middle Eastern men as suspects, and led to a New York Post cover featuring a photo of two innocent men whom they alluded to as suspects. Yet, while the public scrambled through social media's vacuum of video and images to make sense of the attacks that left four dead and hundreds injured, law enforcement agencies were flexing new technological muscle to identify and find the suspects.
Just six weeks after the bombings, NOVA released the documentary, "Manhunt-Boston Bombers," which profiles the successes and failures of the technology behind the eventual capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and the missteps that could have prevented the attacks altogether. It's a revealing film with incredible reporting from seasoned journalist Miles O'Brien that shows the contrast between the homemade bombs the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly made, and the sophisticated surveillance and recognition systems we have in place—which, as you can imagine, walk the line between being truly remarkable, or terrifying tools with no stake in a little thing called privacy. Interestingly enough, just two weeks after the film aired, the NSA leaks came to light.
While the documentary focuses on technology, it doesn't forget the human element behind the machines, reminding viewers that it's "human beings that solve crimes." —Jason Duaine Hahn, Complex (@jasonduaine)