Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tech Towns, Perception, and Reality

Wired just published a list of the top ten American tech towns, with key ratings for each on features like number of tech jobs per capita, wifi availability, number of comic book stores per capita, and geek personal ads.

These lists are always kind of fun, but also kind of silly. A couple of things came to mind as I read through this one. Austin inevitably makes these lists. Not because it's some kind of technology dynamo of a city; had Michael Dell been an Aggie instead of a Longhorn, you'd be seeing College Station instead of Austin on all these lists.

What it is, however, is a funky little town that people tend to love that's small enough that some modest tech activity became part of its DNA. That can happen in a small city like Austin. Never mind that there are probably far more tech workers in in Houston and Dallas, and probably San Antonio (think AT&T); by being a bit of a backwater, it became the Texas tech town.

There's also the obligatory "ugh, it's in Texas" comment. Which is pretty funny; I assume it's a commentary on Texas politics and culture, but there are cities in North Carolina and Florida listed, two equally or more conservative states. But Texas is a state with a big personality, so we get the dig.

I also chuckled seeing them call DC the place for single nerds looking for love, based on the numbers of personal ads; what they don't realize is that it's because DC is hostile to relationships, so it's probably a great place to stay single. (I'm a former Washingtonian, I lived it!)

Lists: silly, fun, and the perfect thing to browse over the day's first cup of coffee.

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