Saturday October 13th 2018
Just out of Back Bay station, my mum screams and with wide eyes whispers “that man! He is really really famous!” While we resist to believe her at first, Nile Rodgers of Chic has just walked past us towards his waiting car. Nobody else turns their head but it has certainly got our trip off to a good start.
When we arrive at Copley Square, we are met with a mass of publishers’ tents. I must admit, I am quite overwhelmed by the prospect of finding my way amongst this new community, but the first stop we make is into the tent of Other Press. We get talking to a woman called Mona. She works in their New York office. She is French, we have met a comrade. We get talking about Europe, about Brexit, about Trump, and what all of this feels like. She shows us the books they have on offer. And at the very first stall we have visited, we buy three beautiful books. I am glad that I travel light as I feel a sudden concern for my baggage allowance on the return flight. All of the books are heavily discounted for the festival. Everyone we meet loves our accent which I find really funny but nice. They say because we are Scottish they will throw in a tote bag for free. The next customer is disappointed as theirs is still 10 dollars.
Beneath the massive Boston Public Library there is a great buzz. We move along in the drizzling rain. Excited by what we will see next.
There is an exhaustive schedule of talks and tours and we each pick one that appeals to our own interests. I am traveling with my Mum and sister, who have no real interest in publishing apart from that it is what I am studying. I have dragged them along to this event and I am hoping they are enjoying it as much as I am. In the midst of visiting all the publishers’ stands, we miss nearly all the talks we have planned to see. But having the chance to speak to so many people and organisations about their projects and their beautiful products seems to be an equally valuable use of time.
We manage to catch one of the later talks on collective creativity at 5pm. This discussion is chaired by Nathan Felde, who sets the sentiment of the discussion by making the inference to the audience, “you have a brain, you share a mind”.
The first speaker, David Edwards, speaks about creating things that matter in relation to artistic, cultural, and aesthetic theory, sustainability of design, and the importance of environments of childhood play in the creative process.
The second speaker is Thomas Malone. His area of study is Liquid Democracy and the concept of the Supermind. He discusses how superminds consist of human minds but that computers working together with them can make the supermind smarter. He repeats to us his motto: “we need to move from humans in the loop to computers in the group”. For Malone, the future depends on how well we are able to use our global supermind and how well we can integrate AI as a tool.
We finish the evening off at an event called Poetry and Pints. Hosted by a local furniture store, Room and Board the event is incredibly comfortable. We sit back with our free pretzel and craft beer provided by Trillium and enjoy the wonderful array of local poets. I turn to see my sister and mum are enjoying themselves and I think what a brilliant day it has been. It is my first time in America, and only the very first day of our trip to the literary capital of the United States.