We don't know enough to draw many conclusions about the tragedy and continuing drama of the Boston Marathon bombings. But we know that the people of Boston are resilient and united, and that the police work in the case has been disciplined and heroic.
We also know that cameras in public spaces helped to crack the case.
Much remains to be learned: Is it certain that the two young Chechens identified as the prime suspects are the perpetrators? Are they part of a larger cell of terrorists — did they have help? Was there a religious or political motivation behind the bombings?
Meanwhile, we are seeing the mixed blessing of an age of reduced privacy. Much of America finds itself perpetually on camera and electronically connected. We are watched and recorded almost everywhere we go. While this is happening, many of us are tweeting to the world about our personal lives.
But it is also true that, without video monitoring, the Boston police would have been hamstrung. Moreover, many citizens were genuinely helpful to the police and FBI in providing visual clues to the bombings, and possibly even evidence.
In times of national tragedy, Americans band together and become one family. Politics and social divisions fall away. The President becomes a national father figure — the consoler-in-chief. Social media only increase and intensify this sense of connection.
Now Americans wait by the national hearth for a conclusion to the bloody drama, and answers to some of their questions.