Pittsburgh Firsts: Overrated

I just came across this very interesting video, produced in connection with the Pittsburgh 250 celebration. It collects lots and lots of historic Pittsburgh firsts, including many that I had not heard of before.

My only reaction on the merits is this: Being first is an American obsession, but if you're concerned with economic growth, being first is vastly overrated. Pittsburgh may have no peer in its innovation "firsts," but that fact and 99 cents will buy you a cup of coffee. (Being first is also overrated purely in an "advancement of human knowledge" sense.) I'd like to see and hear a counterpart film that describes how Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers built successful businesses out of ideas developed - first - elsewhere.


3 Responses to "Pittsburgh Firsts: Overrated"

John Morris said... 8/21/2008 9:33 AM

The first ironclad warships were not built here. I think France built the first and iron plated floating batteries were used in the Crimean War.

I think there are other fudges in there too.

Jefferson Provost said... 8/26/2008 2:30 PM

Investers are warned that past performance does not guarantee future returns.

Anonymous said... 9/01/2008 12:54 PM

Excellent points by all. Also, many of the "firsts" occurred before most of the current occupants of this planet were born. Yet another example of how slick advertising cannot cover up for failing to do the hard work around reform of PA's business tax environment, confronting entitled public employees unions, and pro-actively supporting and celebrating the success of Pgh.'s up-and-coming entrepreneurial sector, rather than just paying it photo-op lip service.

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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.

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