Welcome, Rust Valley

Welcome to the blogosphere to Rust Valley, a blog about Pittsburgh's tech scene by new Pittsburgh arrival Todd Underwood.

In a handful of posts so far, Todd hits the ball solidly and scores a few runs. There's one error, however, that needs to be corrected (or, in Pittsburgh-ese, needs fixed). From a post titled "Dreary Ex-Steel Town Less Crappy Than You Thought":

The only real way to change the traits associated with a product is to give people new traits to think about that crowd out the old ones. In effect, what you need to do is change the conversation. Here are some, perhaps naive, recommendations from a brand new comer to your awesome burgh:

Pittsburgh isn’t a steel town and no one who moves themselves, their families or their companies here does it for the (mostly dead) steel industry. So just stop talking about it. Seriously.

I used to think the same thing, and eventully I was conked on the head enough with an I-beam to accept The Truth: Steel Once, Steel Now, Steel Forever. Pittsburgh is a steel town, at least metaphorically and, more than most people realize, in real terms. They still make steel here, as well as steel-based and steel-related products, and U.S. Steel still has its headquarters here -- even if the building now says U P M C and most its profit comes from overseas operations. Hundreds of thousands of steelworkers and their families left Pittsburgh in the 70s and 80s, but many thousands remain.

Besides, if you deny that Pittsburgh is a steel town, then no one who cares about will take you seriously, and many who care will criticize your naivete.

No harm done, however; Rust Valley is still new. And check out these excellent posts:

The Cost of Living in Pittsburgh, which compares the relative tax burdens of living in New Hampshire and Pittsburgh. No surprise: Pittsburgh taxes you more. As Todd points out, in Pittsburgh at least you get something for your money (perhaps less than you like, and more slowly; YMMV). New Hampshire provides you with just about nothing. As Todd writes: "It sucks to be poor in New Hampshire."

Learn a new city: five easy steps. The title is self-explanatory. (Maybe it should be titled, " Learn the topsoil of a new city in five easy steps." Getting to bedrock takes longer.)

RustWiki. Wikis in Pittsburgh are sprouting like topsy, a sure sign that real geeks not only live here but are elbowing their way into polite company. Already, I feel old; yesterday, my kids had to explain Rickrolling to me.

You can look it up. Or, you can watch this parody video describing the decline and fall of Don Barden's casino in Pittsburgh.


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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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