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Inside and Out

From the Editor in Chief
January 1, 1999

The two existing departments are “Pages,” our book review section, capably written by MIT alumnus Wade Roush, and “Viewpoint,” an essay contributed by a rotating group of freelance writers. In this issue the essay is by Daniel Akst, a novelist who lives in upstate New York. He takes on the charged subject of “Selective Luddism”-why we embrace some technologies and fear others, for not very good reasons. The final piece of the new “Culture Zone” puzzle is a new department we’re calling “Mixed Media.” Replacing the column we called “Web Crawl,” “Mixed Media” will provide reviews, not just of Web sites, but of products in many media-movies, software, CD-ROMs, museum exhibits, radio programs and almost any other vehicle for communication.

Because space is at a premium in any magazine, we’ve had to make tough choices in bringing you “Culture Zone.” “Web Crawl,” for example, has transmuted into the “Mixed Media” column. And “Under the Dome,” a single-page interview with an MIT faculty member, has also changed its spots. Rather than appearing as a single page in every issue, “Under the Dome” will be a series of longer features, on a less regular basis. In its debut in the new format, “Under the Dome” appears as an interview with MIT’s Robert Langer-a pioneer in the rapidly advancing field of biomaterials.

While we’ve been making changes here at home we haven’t been neglecting the theme of innovation in the outside world. Our cover package in this issue addresses two remarkably different models of innovation in the world of software. Contributing Writer Bob Buderi offers our readers the first in-depth look at Microsoft’s burgeoning research department in an attempt to find out whether the software giant, which has been accused of buying its innovations, can grow its own in Redmond.

We’ve paired that piece with an article by Charles Mann on the “anti-Microsoft”-the “free software movement.” This grass-roots effort, populated by geeks around the world who thrive on giving their work away, may ultimately be the biggest challenge to Microsoft’s dominance of the market for computer operating systems. What’s fascinating to TR is just how diametrically opposed these models of innovation are: tight, centralized control, fueled by billions, versus a completely decentralized movement powered by passion. It will take a while to see which one wins. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the innovations we’re introducing in Technology Review.

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