Wednesday I landed at Boston late, got the shuttle to the Blue Line. I used to do this more or less monthly in IKM days and it was a bit of a sentimental journey as it has been far too long since I was in one of my favourite cities in the world. I got out at State to the a crisp clear evening and the first site was one of those quaint little stores that make Boston so reminiscent of the back streets of London. The conference venue for the advanced course had a relationship with Club Quarters which is the chain I always stayed in during the Washington DARPA project meetings so the self check in reactivated old patterns. Its funny how small things trigger big memories.
Yesterday was day one of the advanced course and I enjoyed it, a lot of things coming together at the moment and the new stuff on purpose (see the last few days blog posts) was well received. I'm now starting to build that and the sub-domain models into a full blown software and services strategy engagement approach which is exciting. Any strategy consultants interested in that let me know as I am looking for a reference group and possible beta testers.
We finished at four and I was finished at five – talking with delegates and with Mary Boone about the book. Then I had a very clear plan. Take the T to the Apple Store to buy Huw's 21st birthday (and combination Christmas, just to break the news publicly) present, then walk across the Charles River to the single best book shop in the known universe.
The walk across the Charles River with its innate cold weather stillness was also firing mostly good memories. I only had the iPhone with me so the picture is a little blurry but you get an idea of what it was like. With the Marriott as my landmark I ended up at the MIT bookstore. Its across the road from the Marriott (which is where I stayed in IBM days) right next to the inbound Red Line T. Its small, but so packed with material in my interest areas. Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Anthropology, Politics etc. etc. etc. I have never been there and not come out poorer in cash, richer in knowledge. My haul is shown in the opening shot and will keep me busy over Christmas. They also have the most intellectually stimulating T-shirts (one of which I will be wearing today). Of the books Evil in Modern Thought had been recommended, but the others were simply discoveries. I could never ever have achieved the same results in a virtual environment. Some books call to you from shelves. Picking them up often seems to tell you something about their quality before you even open them. OK I may be getting mystical here, but there is a tactile quality to a good book that goes beyond its content. Iwan was with me, so it was a Welsh delegation, both of us from a cultural tradition that has traditionally sought learning as an alternative to the harsh conditions of the mines and steel works.
Then another trip down memory lane the the redline at Kendal Square Station with its murals celebrating the scientific history of MIT and the platform that I stood on so many times before heading for the airport and home. A good meal and conversation followed. The T itself is a wonderful mix of cheap efficient transport but with an eclectic mix of stations and trains. I love the Green Line which reminds me of trolly buses and even the newest silver line excites curiosity as it compromises buses running on concrete rails. Transport should excite the mind and of course it also provides an opportunity to read those books.