In April of 2013, two pressure cooker bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The resulting crowdsourced criminal investigation has been subject to intense scrutiny. What has not been discussed are the offering behaviors of Twitter users immediately following the detonations. The hashtag #BostonHelp offers a case study of what emergent, computer-mediated groups offer victims of a crisis event. Through creative appropriation of at-hand technologies (CAAT), this emergent group organized online offering and information about tangible resources on the ground. In this case, #BostonHelp participants harnessed blogs, social media, Google Forms, and pre-existing services to organize help for those in need. The resulting structure stabilized and became a symbol of the response itself. This case study offers an analysis of the structure created by computer-mediated crowds. We conclude with a discussion of trying to design, or even detect these behaviors at the start of a crisis response.
LaLone, N., Toups, Z., & Tapia, A. (2020, January). The Structure of Citizen Bystander Offering Behaviors Immediately After the Boston Marathon Bombing. In Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.