Holding Us Back?

Jonathan Potts asks, via the Comments, whether Pittsburgh's continuing association with the steel industry isn't what's holding us back. OK. I'll bite. What is holding us back?

Or -- is Pittsburgh being held back at all?

Here's what I see when I look at the Steeler hard hat, which prompted Jonathan's comment. I see a tribute to two industries -- steel and mining -- which have their best days behind them. I see an idealization of Pittsburgh's history. Does it hold Pittsburgh back to say that this is still a steel town, even metaphorically? Ask your friends around the country and around the world about their impressions of Pittsburgh. Are they good ones? I hope so. Are those positive associations based on the history (and continuing presence) of steel? I'd like to know the answer, but I'd wager that the answer is no.

Here's what I might see when I look at the Steeler hard hat. I might see the fruit of an innovative trademark licensing deal between the NFL and local outfit Mine Safety Appliances, which makes the hats. I might see the kind of blend of old (hard) technology and new (soft) technology that Pittsburgh needs to develop across its entire economy in order to generate jobs and grow.

Right now, my intuition is that most people, both in the region and outside, share my the first look at the hard hat, and not the second. Am I wrong?


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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