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A perfect day in London

I spend yesterday either talking about networks and connections or experiencing them in rather amazing ways. Because I lived in London in my twenties, the connections I find here are a wonderful mix of old and new.

After lunch with a friend, and former employer, who has become a wonderful source of counsel on how to build a global business (and he’s graciously never said how surprised he must be to find me doing this), I had tea with Tim Coates. Tim was managing director at Waterstone’s, the British bookstore chain, and has become a advocate of reforms to U.K. libraries. I brought him one of our new buttons, designed for the Libraries We Love book project, that say, “Libraries make the world a better place.”

Then off to the launch party for a publishing center at University College. My friend Richard Charkin was speaking as I finally found the room (after wading through a lot of students with wine bottles, empty and full, in their hands–this seemed a little strange at 6pm). A wonderfully mixed conversation (that interdisciplinary “two cultures” I’m always confusing people with), because along with Richard I got to talk to Jens Redmer, director of Google Book Search Europe (like Macmillan, I think, a sponsor of the Centre) and a English professor from UCL’s School of Advanced Study. I had a chance to indulge in some technology debate and to talk about literature. Heaven.

Bringing the day to a perfect close, supper with Lucy Hooberman, the inspired instigator of a global mentoring project. She is working out how to use the Internet as a means of linking mentors in developed countries with, well, ‘mentees’ in developing regions. Besides that, there’s the challenge of finding the right technologies–and financial support–to manage the network and relationships. It was a thought-provoking conversation, and I also got some new ideas about wikis (a good thing, as I’m giving a talk about them in New York in three weeks).

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