They say that your MIT credentials get more impressive and valuable the farther you get from MIT. This is nicely illustrated by this thing that happened to me in New York the other day, which most certainly could not have happened in Cambridge. It also, by the way, could only have happened to a reader of paper (not e-) magazines.
I was sitting on a bench outside a Swedish coffee shop reading the MIT Tech Review and not paying much attention to the two guys on the adjacent bench who, as it turns out, were scheming to disrupt the entire world of institutional trading. I put the magazine down and started to gather my things, and the two guys, one British and one South African, commented on how impressed they were with MIT. Assuming they were scientists or engineers, I deflected modestly, “I just went to the business school.” That was all the entree they needed to launch into an NDA-free discussion of their disruptive plans. I won’t describe them here here but if these guys pull it off, you’ll be hearing all about it soon enough.
As we belatedly introduced ourselves, I revealed myself as the fossil I am by handing over a business card. I might as well have offered a clay tablet. They politely photographed the card for storage on their phones and suggested that we connect on facebook as well. I then showed myself to be a luddite by saying, “I declared facebook bankruptcy years ago, the account is there but I never log in.” This was nearly inconceivable. How do I even exist without facebook? They declared that they had to make a video, as if they had spotted the last passenger pigeon or an albino whale and their friends would not believe them.
Fossil, luddite, and to that add antisocial killjoy. I nixed the video but agreed to a selfie (it’s not really a selfie to me if somebody else takes it, but I was in his selfie I guess) that would be shared on twitter.
I left the disruptors with the magazine – no doubt they’ll show it to friends and laugh about the use of wood pulp to transmit information – and moved on with a distinct sense of aged decrepitude. On the other hand, if this is the rep that MIT carries with folks from Europe and Africa, maybe I should pack my (stainless steel) brass rat and head farther afield than New York – but only after bringing my facebook page back up to date.