Friday, August 06, 2004

MIT's hack corridor and the rediscovery of libraries

Christina and I had lunch today with the chair of my PhD program, Bruce Tidor. We went to meet him at his office in the newly-completed Stata Center, which is the new home of MIT's computer science program as well as a couple of other programs. It's definitely a cool building [Wired devoted an entire article to it], but it does look like it has a lot of wasted space that could have gone towards more labs and offices. On the flip side, it's much better than the previous home of the CS department, which can only be described as "Nuclear fallout shelter-chic" -- a squat rectangular building, with really tight corridors with low ceilings, really old carpeting and just plain "bunkerish". Gave me the creeps when I first visited it.

Afterwards, while wandering through one of the other buildings, we discovered a whole corridor devoted to pictures of MIT 'hacks", like the time they put an entire police car on top of one of their buildings, rearranged all the chairs in a lecture room to face backwards [despite the chairs being bolted to the floor and each other], an altered street sign reading "MIT monster eats Boston/BackBay" etc. We'll take some pictures and post them. What I thought was cool about it was that it's a tradition that is clearly embraced by the institution if they're willing to officially chronicle it. Christina was also amazed by all the doors with signs saying "Radioactive Material", "Biohazard" etc of various labs; as she put it, she felt like she should be running around in a hazmat suit, yelling and screaming something about the end of the world ...

We also went to the Boston Public Library, which is a very cool library -- tons of cool, old architecture, an inner courtyard with a fountain and benches around it etc. Again, pictures will be forthcoming. Between the Boston Public Library, the MIT libraries and the access I'll have to Harvard libraries, I'm rediscovering the joys of a well-stocked library -- "ah, I don't have to buy the book anymore, I can just borrow it and then return it when I'm done, instead of having to spend both money and bookshelf space on it -- what an ingenious concept !".


Blogger Corey said...

I'm totally jealous. The more I think about your move, the more I wish I was smart enough to hack it at a real institution. Glad you're having fun - can't wait to see pics of the architecture!

I loved my brief visit to Boston. You guys'll have fun, for sure!

6:40 PM  

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