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Comments: Week of May 3, 2010

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1. In last week’s cover story, Doree Shafrir documented the recent resurgence of technological entrepreneurship in the city, and the accompanying optimism and earnestness that characterize New York’s young techies (“Tweet Tweet Boom Boom,” April 26). The article made the new-media rounds of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook feeds of NYC’s technophiles (some sample tweets: “a seven-page shot at defining what’s going on in NYC’s Tech Scene. Thesis, we’re romantics?” … “New York Mag profiles the new tech boom in NYC. Take that, Silicon Valley!”). Old-media institutions also took note. The New York TimesCity Room blog commented, “While great tech businesses are not new to the city, their brand of heady, tech-centered optimism does appear to be a unique addition to the city’s often morose media scene.” “A fairly comprehensive, definitive piece chronicling these companies at a crucial moment,” wrote Joe Coscarelli in a Village Voice blog. “The money has flooded in and some investors are beginning to get antsy. Dollars are next … But for these companies to be seen as successes, they’ll have to make Shafrir’s piece seem outdated and fast—a relic of a moment before they exploded and changed everything.” The optimism under discussion did not extend to commenters on nymag.com. “If I were one of their investors, I’d have demanded to get someone in there who knew how to capitalize on opportunity,” wrote one. “Some of these folks are so smart that they’re stupid: long on abstract theory, short on common sense. Yes, there needs to be an embrace of the kids’ fresh ideas, but there still have to be some grown-ups minding the store.” Others were interested in digging deeper into a problem Shafrir touched upon: that of the low numbers of women in these tech start-ups. “The women deficit is somewhat intriguing because it runs counter to a number of other trends,” wrote John Hudson at the Atlantic Wire, referring to the growing numbers of women in college and the workforce. “These companies don’t run themselves,” wrote Rachel Sklar at Mediaite, “and so many of the crucial team members are women—not necessarily founders, but their right arms and guts and blood.”

2. David Edelstein’s dissection in “Intelligencer” of the populist fervor for Network character Howard Beale’s famous “I’m mad as hell” line (“Mad As Beale,” April 26) prompted reader Eric Hanson to propose another movie analogy for our current political climate: “Enjoyed (and was alarmed by) your piece comparing tea-partiers to Howard Beale. Smart analysis. But it goes back further, notably to Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe, in which the despair of a fabricated individual spawns a sincere neighborly outpouring all over the country—which is then taken over by a fascist publisher. It too has cynical manufactured mob rage and honest public-spiritedness co-opted by corporate masters. A movie that should be remade or at least rewatched.”

3. Readers seemed fascinated by Olivo Barbieri’s photograph of Times Square (“Our Tiny Town,” by Christopher Bonanos, April 26), which uses tilt-shift perspective to depict the city as if it were a scale model. “I’m happy to know that someone has captured that somewhat: the surreal, comical, fantastical nature of our ‘tiny’ town,” said one commenter. “Wow, 6,000 pictures were taken to get 16 good ones? Incredible,” gushed another. A blogger at And How NYC admired the picture, noting, “Looks like a shot of a toy city, doesn’t it? So friggin’ awesome.”

4. Last Thursday, New York received a third National Magazine Award for general excellence, an especially gratifying prize as it complements the National Magazine Award nymag.com received for general excellence last month. Our print and digital incarnations are equal partners here, and we were honored to receive six awards altogether across both platforms, including one for best magazine section (“The Strategist”), personal service (“For And Against Foreskin,” October 26, 2009), and leisure interests (“The Great New York Neoclassical Neapolitan Pizza Revolution,” July 20–27, 2009). Our thanks to the American Society of Magazine Editors—and congratulations to Glamour, which beat us for Magazine of the Year. (It was, you know, an honor just to be nominated.)


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