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Redesigned Technology Review Will Shift Focus to Innovation

By Venkatesh Satish
Contributing Editor

The Institute unveiled the first issue of the revamped Technology Review magazine at a special event at Walker Memorial yesterday.

"We have a unique opportunity to introduce the world's first and only magazine dedicated exclusively to the process of technological change," said Bruce Journey, the magazine's publisher and chief executive officer, in his opening remarks.

The focus on innovation is important, because "this vital topic is not as widely appreciated or understood as it ought to be," said President Charles M. Vest.

The shift in editorial focus is part of an overhaul aimed at increasing Technology Review's circulation from about 90,000 to about 200,000 by the end of next year, said Associate Publisher Martha A. Connors.

Before the change, the publication focused more on technology as it related to public policy. "That was relevant in the 1970s but that has really changed," Connors said.

Now, the magazine will cover the business and entrepreneurial aspect of innovation, and it will target an audience with such interests, Connors said.

Currently, about half of the magazine's readers are alumni. By covering the innovation process more completely, the staff hopes to expand the readership base and still make a product alumni will enjoy, Connors said. For example, the magazine will still include "Class Notes," a compilation of news from MITgraduating classes.

"We will have a huge newsstand presence," raising the number of such copies per issue from 5,000 to 20,000, Connors said. That would put Technology Review in the same league as Scientific American, which distributes about 35,000 copies per issue.

About two years ago, the magazine was losing about $200,000 a year, Connors said. So, a new publisher and editor in chief were hired to help improve the publication's condition, she said.

Magazine content will be different

One major change in content is that articles will "exclusively be written by the best science and technology writers," said Editor in Chief John M. Benditt.

The publication will contain two main types of features, Benditt said. One will highlight popular areas of technology and the other will concentrate on the process of innovation.

The magazine will cover developments in a variety of fields, including those in information technology, biotechnology, and materials science, Benditt said.

The rejuvenated Technology Review will also feature some new sections. "Benchmarks" will feature information relating to topics such as research and development, policy, and market trends, Benditt said.

"Trailing Edge" will cover the historical aspect of technology, and "Under the Dome" will explore the work of a researcher at MIT.

Benditt said that the magazine will now include submissions by noted innovators such as Michael L. Dertouzos PhD '64, the director of the Laboratory for Computer Science.

"We are building a brand here, a franchise based on innovation Keep an eye on us," Benditt said.

A panel of experts discussed innovation issues immediately before the unveiling. The group consisted of Dertouzos; John Seely Brown, chief scientist at Xerox Research Park in Palo Alto; Robert M. Metcalfe '68, the inventor of Ethernet; Richard K. Lester PhD '80, director and founder of the MIT Industrial Performance Center; Biogen Chairman James L. Vincent; and William Helman, who has directed numerous public and private companies.

The panel talked about a wide range of issues that impact technology, from government policy encouraging innovation to the vital characteristics of an innovator.