Readers Respond To AOL Exodus
Kendra Marr and I wrote a story that appeared in Monday's paper exploring what AOL's exodus means for the region. It elicited some heated comments. Here's an overview of some of the themes that readers brought up:
* Does Washington have a university (or several) that can be a source of technology entrepreneurs - like Stanford is in Silicon Valley and MIT is in Boston? We suggested not - and that AOL played that role for a time.
But "reston75" pointed out "there are plenty of quality engineering schools in the DC area," including Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, George Mason, George Washington, University of Virginia, Penn State and Carnegie Mellon. Reader "sivadthe4th" noted the strength of Maryland's business school and engineering school. "It obviously has to fit a wider range of needs overall because it is a state school, but its education is definitely top notch in engineering and business for certain."
Other readers felt the region's research universities did not fit the bill. Reader "Haudidoody" wrote, "only CMU and VT are quality in that list and they're both more than 200 miles away. And you can forget the graduate programs for engineering at those other schools. They're putrid. Much of the quality tech comes out of researchers in Ph.D. programs."
Reader "thermowax" said: "You call The University of Maryland (College Park, I presume) a quality engineering school? You must be joking. It's a 40000+ student commuter school with a commodity education mentality."
* Does the Washington region have a vibrant technology culture - or is it just government contractors with their security clearances?
Reader "kinoworks" wrote: "This region is a joke when it comes to startups and high tech when compared to silicon valley. It's all about security clearances and zero risk taking, as opposed to innovation."
And "sivadthe4th" noted: "AOL has been a non factor in tech for quite some time now. Its demotion and departure to New York is further evidence of that. The Washington area has not been able to procure new technology upstarts, mostly I believe due to the adversarial climate in this region. Sure we have had OLD giants like MCI, AOL and Sprint but look what has happened to them. There is promise though, someone has to use the office space being vacated by the military due to BRAC in Crystal City and [Rosslyn]."
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