What Makes Boston a Liveable City

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Maybe we don’t brag enough.
We live in an incredibly innovative place: Massachusetts is a magnet for people who want to solve challenging problems, build substantial businesses, and conduct research at the edge of what’s known. But while other businesspeople boast about the wonderful weather and great golf in Tempe, Ariz., or the stock options they got from a friend’s Silicon Valley start-up, sure to be worth millions, we never know quite what to say. Instead, we’re prone to jealousy, looking from afar at the happening digital media scene in Manhattan, or the lower cost of living in North Carolina. But what if we stopped comparing, and started sharing? Here’s my list of 17 talking points — stuff you might share about Massachusetts when talking with an airplane seatmate from somewhere else or hosting a visitor here. Why not stash a copy in your wallet for quick reference? ■ An Australian research firm, 2thinknow, named Boston the world’s most innovative city in 2009 and 2010, looking at a variety of business, cultural, and urban design measures. The runner-up this year? Paris. When CNBC compiled its 2010 list of the best states in which to do business, Massachusetts was in the top five, duking it out with Texas (number one) and Virginia (number two).

■ The British fellow who invented the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, teaches at MIT. He’s also head of the World Wide Web Consortium, an organization based at the university that sets technical standards for the Web. ■ Before there was the Internet, there was the Arpanet, which mostly connected universities. And the guy who developed the first e-mail application for the Arpanet, enabling a user on one computer to communicate with someone on a distant computer, was Ray Tomlinson. Tomlinson chose the “@’’ sign to separate the user’s name from the name of the computer where they could be found. Tomlinson sent the first e-mail in 1971, and he still works in Cambridge for BBN Technologies, now a division of Raytheon Co. ■ Zipcar...
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