Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Have you heard about “Ticket to Ride”? I think it’s an old game, but it’s gained renewed popularity. It’s none too complex. You simply build a railroad between two cities you’ve been assigned while others are building theirs. There are conflicts of course, and longer rail lines are worth more points, but that’s pretty much the game.

My exposure to “Ticket to Ride” happened 3 times in a week’s time, between Christmas and New Years. A colleague first told me about it after he’d played it over Christmas. Then, a college friend mentioned playing it on his Facebook status. Finally, a third friend, told me about having played it recently herself. None of these friends know each other. By New Years’ Eve, I was playing it myself. It seemed inevitable.

I had a similar experience, one I’m sure you can relate to, this time with a book—well, actually, an author.

Since my trip to Congo in September, I’ve been more attuned to events in and around DR Congo. The Economist writes plenty about it. That’s where I first read the name, “Chinua Achebe.” It was a passing note about a novelist I’d never heard of, but the name stuck in my brain, I suppose because I like books in general. Then, before the election, I was reading Obama’s Dreams from My Father. In it, he mentions Achebe. Hailing him as perhaps the most famous African writer of the 20th century who sufficiently captured the African experience and condition. “Have you heard of him?” I finally asked a well-read colleague of mine. It was a foregone conclusion. Achebe is a must-read in world literature. Mentally, I added the title to my list of books to read. (Isn’t that how we often choose books to read?)

I think this is most often how things get my attention, emerging this way. I hear about the same thing repeatedly, and once some threshold of curiosity is reached, I go looking for more about them. Do you notice these patterns in your own experience?


Dan said...

My most recent experience of that was with David Mead. I saw his name in three different places, so I figured I should check out his music.

I'm glad I did.

Adam said...

so what were the various contexts of hearing about him?

Dan said...

they were three emails from three different sources. Yeah, I was inundated by the internet. Internetundation.

Ben B said...

Perhaps I am a fourth fanboy:

I'm glad to note TtR is a "German-Style Board Game." As games like this and Settlers of Catan prosper I wonder what it can say about Americans. The "German" games emphasize strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. This is in contrast contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.

Is the US becoming smarter, nicer, and more peace loving one board game at a time?

Adam said...

Dan -

What was the span of time between the first and third emails?

Ben - Your observation about the economic over and above military emphasis is interesting. But Germany as peaceloving? sounds like switzerland.

Dan said...

I got them all within a week.