Monday, April 18, 2005

National Social Networking Day

Before I moved to New England I had never heard of Patriot's Day, but around here it's a big deal. Lots of people get the day off from work, and downtown Boston gives itself over completely to the marathon. Even as I type this, the tail end of the Arlington mini-marathon straggles along Mass Ave outside my office window. All this running around celebrates Paul Revere's famous ride of 230 years ago. "The British are coming! The British are coming!" etc. The Boston marathon roughly retraces Revere's route in reverse.

Those of us on this side of The Tipping Point know that the success and fame of Revere's ride are due largely to his prowess not as a horseman but as a connector. If Revere were not such a sociable and well-connected fellow, we could just as well be celebrating the ride of William Dawes, who set out on his horse the same night as Revere did. Dawes was an equally speedy messenger but didn't have Revere's social or political clout, and so his ride, well-timed as it was, did not make much of an impact.

For a lively review of Revere vs. Dawes, see this column "Eye on the Entrepreneur" from the Baltimore Daily Record. Also here is an article from Inc. magazine "Connecting with the Connectors" that features a profile of Revere.


erib said...

The Boston marathon roughly retraces Revere's route in reverse.

Actually, that's incorrect. "With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from the Irvington Oval in Boston to Metcalf's Mill in Ashland was eventually selected." [Boston Athletic Association]

Paul Rever's route took him from Charlestown to Medford then onto Menotomy (now your home town of Arlington) then next onto Lexington and finally to Concord.

erib said...

BTW - since the folks in colonial Boston were all British subjects - and considered themselves such - it is noted in accounts of that night (by Revere and others)that he actually said: "The Regulars are coming out!" - particularly when he finally made it to Concord and first-hand reported to Sam Adams and John Hancock at Jonas Clark's home.

Bruce Hoppe said...

I guess the retracing is even rougher than I thought!

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