About Boston Detours

The Boston Massacre site by Granato31415 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51219207

Above, the site of the Boston Massacre: a mosaic of granite cobblestones inside a brass circle studded with stars (photo by Granato31415).

Located on a small V-shaped concrete island, in the middle of a 5-way intersection, it's a featured stop on the Freedom Trail, probably Boston's best-known visitor attraction.  

It's also where both Boston Detours, and its companion site, Placemaking Report, begin. 

Because I worked about a hundred yards from, and 11 floors above, this tourist destination. I looked down on it from one of the skyscrapers that loom over the site. 

Below, my old view of the Old State House, which provides a backdrop to the Boston Massacre memorial.

The Old State House, Boston. Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Urban~commonswiki
The Old State House, Boston

Why Boston Detours?

Every day I walked past clusters of people loitering around the Massacre site: looking around, not sure what they should be focusing on, probably wondering what's for lunch.

"Are we almost at Faneuil Hall Marketplace yet?" I heard a girl ask her weary parents the one day.

This seems to be a common attitude along many of Boston's tourist trails: a dutiful sleepwalk past solemn monuments and hyper-touristic enterprises hawking tricorner hats, stuffed lobsters, and Harvard t-shirts. 

Boston must be more interesting than it appears to the typical visitor, right?

Or maybe not.

Either way, it was a good excuse to try out some new technologies that are promising to deliver more relevant, more immediate information. I'm talking about the internet of things, augmented reality, and virtual reality -- sometimes lumped together under the catch-all term "mixed reality."

How all this is coming together, in actual real-world locations on earth, and in the metaverse, is actually the focus of Placemaking Report, but along the way I wanted to also collect the actual sites that a visitor to Boston might be interested in. That's this site. 

I also need some content to test-drive an ambitious new version of the Drupal content management system (CMS). It's the engine that powers Acquia, the Internet company where I worked as Senior Editor, Technology. Let's pull some levers in a Drupal 8-powered control room!   

Downtown Boston is an ideal location to test this stuff out. The Freedom Trail and environs are rambling and minimally managed. Also nearly everyone walking the Trail seems to be constantly monitoring their phones -- an ideal audience for an IoT experiment.  

Why not leverage both -- the Drupal content management system and mixed reality -- to help out the lost, loitering visitors dutifully following the Freedom Trail?

This site also gives me an opportunity to visit, and think about, some places worth recommending, and perhaps adding interactive elements to? 

So, Boston Detours.  

If you're visiting Boston, we hope this site can also help:

  1. Find offbeat, unusual, hidden destinations off Boston's well-worn tourist trails; and
  2. Deliver a few interactive experiences along the way.

Navigating Boston Detours

For destinations, check out these sections: Eat, Explore, Rest, Shop

For Mixed Reality experiments, choose Play

Currently, the #1 Play destination is District Hall, which is hosting the District Hall Challenge

BTW, most of this research, by necessity, has been conducted during lunch, which accounts for the heavy emphasis here on submarine sandwiches, burritos, empanadas, chocolate, and seared salmon on a bed of kale salad. 

Any suggestions? Chime in.