Disruptive Technologies

Course site for Disruptive Technologies. Exploring identity, community, & design.

Week 6 Video: Building Bridges

Please watch this video and share your reactions as comments to the post. We would have watched this in class today. Try to focus your responses around what you know about community from our previous work and what you think you know about identity from our emerging work. Everyone should watch, comment, and engage in conversation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. This was a very intense video! I really enjoyed seeing so many members of the community come forward and listening to those young men’s words. On one hand, their discussion highlights toward a “global village” type of community. On the other, it was only a small number of residents so it also seems to reflect a possible denunciation of this type of community (owning up to the pros and cons and moving forward together).

    To me, this video shows how a community can work from a focus of helping each individual’s identity (eg. Working past problems, and helping everyone succeed in the end).

    To relate it all to tech, I also perceive a problem that I’ve noticed in day-to-day tech life: absence of awareness. The 6 young men all agreed that they. Didn’t really think things through. Although it’s correlation, I think it’s important to note two main trends in tech that I have noticed—

    1) Disembodiment: people forget that there’s a real person on the other end (sometimes there’s not). This affects expected response times for emails, or even what type of responses expected (thinking of hookup or dating apps that get filled with creeps…for a lack of better words).

    2) Collaborative: people are not only openly held accountable constantly and consistently, but there is a platform for multi-user conversation.

    These are just two main types (each have crossovers) that I have seen that appear to closely relate to Bucks County.

  2. Communication was the key to restoring community ties in Buck’s County after Mood’s Bridge was burned. The kids and their parents were mortified and the neighbors were rightfully angry, but they were able to get past those isolating emotions to feel connected at the conference where they had the chance to talk to each other and listen. I think that the face to face presence was an essential aspect of the healing that took place, and I wonder if digital communication could ever be so effective.

    • It is a good question … can real discourse effectively happen through a computer mediated environment? I think the answer is yes, but I’m with you in that I am not sure it could produce the kinds of results we saw in the video. There is something about blending individual voice into a single voice in a group — especially in a setting so filled with anger, saddness, and intensity. I doubt that community could have healed itself through online conversation.

    • Chris Williams

      March 10, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      I think conflict mediation similar to what happened in the video could happen online but the means by which the online medium works, all parties in the conflict communicate must not be inturpted.
      One bad example of this happening is a YouTube comment section flame war because while you may have read my comment you might be thinking of something else to say but then I interrupt with my reaction.
      Like Cole I believe this situation could not be handled though an online medium.

  3. Katherine.Hopkins@stonybrook.edu

    March 10, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    This video was not at all what I expected it to be. I could almost feel the tension in the air during the discussion. You can see the remorse on the perpetrators faces when they talk about how much the bridge symbolized and how much it meant to the community members. The bridge represented a big part of the community and the 6 men took that away from the community. I thought it was extremely beneficial to the entire community, especially the men who committed the crime, to have this discussion in such an open forum. At no point in the video did I feel like the men were being attacked for what they did. It felt like everyone in the community was trying extremely hard to understand whey these young men did what they did. It’s crazy to see how much a piece of architecture like a bridge could form such a tight bond between members of a town. The woman who starts speaking at 16:30 really moved me. She told the men that it was hard to be angry at them because she was once a teenager and stupid mistakes are made. Despite this bridge’s burning having hurt the community so much, they still stuck together and tried to support the young men.

    It was also interesting to see what the community members identified these young men as versus how the young men identified themselves versus what their parents identified them as. One man’s father discussed how people thought his son was a criminal but didn’t know all the positive things about him like how he graduated within the top 10% of his class.

  4. Chris Williams

    March 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    This video is a great example of how communities are able to work through tragedies by talking though each member’s emotions. I think the young men were extremely lucky the people of Buck’s County were willing to sit down and talk with them. As much as I would like to see this type of conflict mediation happen, when thinking of resources and the amount of crimes committed daily it would be near impossible using what we have now. As Katherine mentioned you could see the tension in the room (or perhaps that was the quality of the camera) but at the end of the discussion, after attaching a face and voice to the young men and angry letter to the editor writers, everyone seemed focus on bringing back what was lost. The community attached their identity to this bridge and all they (being the young men and the angry community members) wanted was their identity back.

  5. There is a saying in Spain “get a reputation, and you might as well go to sleep”. These 6 young men’s identity has been changed, for life. Regardless of their academic record, of how good they had been all their lives, this mistake has changed the course of their lives and has marked their identity. Personally, this might have make them a better person. However, to the eyes of the community, their reputation will have the connotation of a (good person) arsonist.

    On the positive side, their show of remorse will help them and their community mentally overcome the hardship they have endured.

    It’s a good thing that the conference occurred. It gave them, their parents, and the community an open forum to express their true feelings.

    The bridge was burned in 1991, no YouTube then. I wonder how the reaction of the community would have changed had this documentary been easily available then.

    • Cole Camplese SA

      March 16, 2015 at 3:18 am

      That is a fascinating thought, Shady. Would the availability that a platform such as YouTube affords provide a very different set of opportunities?

  6. Whenever I see one of these senseless crimes perpetrated by a group I wonder about the group dynamics in play. Were some of them reluctant participants just going along with it? Either way I believe that none of these young men would have done this on their own, it took the group to make it happen.

  7. I have a similar reaction to what many have already stated but I think one other thing that I noticed was that despite this having taken place long before social media and other platforms we have today this it can act as an interesting metaphor for how actions on the web can impact identity and community. Lighting fire to the bridge in today is akin to posting something malicious on the web. While a physical bridge might not be destroyed the same impact can be felt in communities and individuals. It reminds me a bit of the yik yak incident but also of many other tragedies and scandals that caused identities to be forever changed and communities to be hurt. Do these platforms make it make it easier for the “match to be lit”? For some it does, but in many cases it’s just a new form of fire. Either way, the way that this community reacted to this event is truly remarkable. I found it fascinating how they were able to come together for this conference and I wonder like many others could anything close to this be possible with YouTube?

  8. Christopher Stratis

    March 29, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I was surprised to see that a non for profit organization exists to conduct healing conversation and restorative public works.
    Objectively speaking:
    Erasing history is unforgivable. Dictators and tyrants erase history to strip people of the culture that they once clung to. While a burning a bridge is much more forgivable than trying to erase the holocaust, the crime that the six men committed can never really be forgiven. While I was listening to their side of the argument, I couldn’t help but wonder what made them decide to commit the crime, that could have resulted in death, in the first place. This really felt more like a mutual “getting over it.” If an potential employer found this video, I suspect that they would not be hired. I would consider them a liability.
    Moderated, guided communication may have healed the wound, but there will be a permanent scar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Skip to toolbar