Choose Your Adventure: Ada’s Education


7:42 pm. It had been a long day, but Ada arrived at the learning pod and exchanged nods with the other knowledge consumers who also preferred the evening shift. Today was a big day. While she normally preferred to study while commuting from Georgetown, Ada chose to come into the pod so she could attempt to level up without distracting the other commuters. Two weeks before, Ada had been notified that she was eligible to demonstrate the learning objectives for L3 Shakespeare, especially good timing because she was planning a trip to Stratford the following week and was hoping to visit the sites reserved for L3s and above.

She grabbed a charged SmartSpace by door, found an open seat on the couch, adjusted the level of ambient noise on her SmartEars to medium, and used SmartEyes to navigate to her learning space through a series of eye movements. Once in the space, she began by reviewing the work from her L2 students. She watched a video of a virtual chat recorded a few hours earlier and annotated it with comments, indicating both when she agreed and disagreed with the iModerator. She was grateful that the system generated transcripts and translations because while she had her L6 Chinese badge, she was just starting her L2 Spanish badge and would have had difficulty following Nina’s contributions. Before switching to her next task, she made individual notes in each of her ten apprentice’s files and reviewed the comments from the other L3 knowledge leaders to see if she agreed or had anything else to add.

At 7:55, her SmartEars chimed, indicating that her review was about to begin. When she signed up for her L3 badge she elected to demonstrate mastery through discussion, so she was soon joined by three L4 knowledge consumers who began evaluating her understanding by asking questions about the papers she had submitted and reviewing footage of cohort discussions. Ada hoped that Chris wouldn’t be on the panel, but knew that she had no control over the matter: panels were convened through a random selection of L4s who happened to be on-call at the time.

If you want Chris to be on Ada’s panel, turn to page 63.
If you don’t want Chris to be on Ada’s panel, turn to page 72.

Ada in the Rare Books Library


Ada strained to lift the canvas box containing the heavy folio from the shelf. She had been working as a page at the Folger for months now, retrieving books from the vault and delivering them to the old people upstairs, but she had never given them more than a passing glance. She had read about folios and quartos while studying for her badges, but all she really knew was that there were sometimes different versions of the plays she had read and that the books here had the same names. The folios were big and heavy and had a distinct smell she couldn’t quite place.

It was cold in the vault—inexplicably cold, Ada thought. She balanced the box on one hip to zip her sweater. As she did, she lost her balance, slipped off the stool, and dropped the large box on the floor. Ada’s pride hurt more than anything else, so she quickly dusted herself off, looked around, and opened the box. What she found inside was alarming: a thick wooden board that appeared to be the book’s cover seemed to have been detached. Some pages were loose, and others appeared to be attached only with threads. She stacked the pages neatly, placed the board on top, replaced the call slip, and closed the box before placing it on her cart.

When she got upstairs, the reader who had requested the book was waiting patiently by the desk. Trying to look calm, she slid out the call slip and handed him the box. He carried the box back to his desk, opened it carefully, and lifted the board. Caught, she thought. Instead, she was surprised to see him place the board on one of a pair of foam wedges. (She’d heard this setup called a “cradle,” but she wasn’t sure why.) He then removed what remained of the book and set it on the desk.

She tried to slip out unnoticed.

If she had stayed, she would have seen him pick up a magnifying glass and carefully pull back the leather on the book’s spine. And she would have been baffled.