Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
Technology Review, a century-old magazine restarted last week as "MIT's Magazine of Innovation," is seeking to double in size within two years, the kind of accelerated growth experienced in the start-up companies and industries it has begun writing about.
"We have a unique opportunity to introduce the world's first and only magazine dedicated exclusively to the process of technological change," publisher and CEO Bruce Journey told an audience of more than 300 assembled at Walker Memorial last Thursday to celebrate the relaunch.
"Innovation has always been a defining principle of MIT," said President Charles M. Vest. "Under the able guidance of Bruce Journey and John Benditt -- and with the sage assistance of MIT's alumni leadership -- Technology Review has embraced the principle of innovation, both as its major topic and its operational imperative. We can be confident that the result will be a publication of considerable interest and value not only to the larger MIT community, but to a wide range of other audiences throughout society."
The magazine restarts its engines with a base of 92,000 subscribers. For about half of them, Technology Review represents the only national magazine that doubles as an alumni/ae magazine. It has been published by the Association of the Alumni and Alumnae of MIT since January 1899.
Now it's changing its spots from a magazine focusing on science and technology policy to a magazine of six issues a year focusing on innovative corporate thinking, research and technical advances. Its goal is a circulation of about 200,000, including 20,000 to 30,000 newsstand copies, by the end of 1999, and enough advertising pages to have the magazine make money. In recent years, the magazine had been losing an average of about $200,000 a year.
Under the leadership of Mr. Journey and Mr. Benditt, the new editor in chief, the magazine has been totally revamped in the past five months with a new design and a new editorial staff.
The new issue has 40 pages of advertising, more than twice as many as its previous record of 15, according to Associate Publisher Martha Connors. The 64-page alumni/ae section, featuring 16 pages in full color, is printed at the back of the book on the same paper as the rest of the magazine.
Ms. Connors said circulation will be accelerated by mailings every six months of 2.5 million promotional pieces. Each mailing is expected to generate about 100,000 responses, which will translate to 40,000 new subscribers. The ad rate for the next issue, with circulation going over 100,000, will be $12,000 a page instead of the previous $7,500, she said.
The May/June 1998 issue unveiled at the celebration has as its cover story MIT Professor Richard Lester and "The Companies Left Standing," an article adapted from his new book, "The Productive Edge."
Professor Lester, director of the Industrial Performance Center, urges America to "regain the productive edge" and raise the standard of living for all families, not just the top 40 percent of them. His article examines large companies that over the years "have exhibited a sense of purpose beyond profit that, paradoxically, has helped them to increase their profitability, and to navigate through periods of great uncertainty along the way."
Other feature articles concern anthropologists studying how people interact with machines at Xerox PARC; emerging technologies in combinatorial materials; protein interactions and "the next genome project"; computer simulations for Boston's "Big Dig" highway project, and an interview about the Internet with Vint Cerf, one of its inventors.
The columnists include Professor Michael Dertouzos, director of the Laboratory for Computer Science; G. Paschal Zachary, author of a recent biography of Vannevar Bush, writing about innovative companies; and Stephen Hall, writing about biotechnology.
Mr. Benditt, in his introductory column in the 96-page new issue, writes: "Knowing that everyone's time is short these days, we have sharply increased the magazine's allotment of brief, easily digestible items. The new Prototype department includes pithy reports from technology's front linesï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Benchmarks takes a wider view, with concise items on market trends, R&D strategies, basic research and policy issues."
Other departments of the magazine include a look at what's happening at MIT in Under the Dome; a book review section called Pages; and Trailing Edge, about past innovations such as the Corning Glass ribbon machine that created glass light bulbs.
Each issue will also have a provocative guest column, Viewpoint. The first is by writer Gary Taubes, who argues that "the role of the daily press is fundamentally at odds with how science proceeds, which is in fits and starts -- most of them either wrong or meaningless." He concludes with an old saying about the press: "Trying to tell what's going on in the world by reading the daily newspapers is like trying to tell what time it is by looking at the second hand of a clock."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 29, 1998.