The Heinz Endowments mandates that "Pittsburgh benefit from the connectivity," not just Carnegie Mellon. Nice words, but can the effort really spill into greater Pittsburgh? Could any tide rise powerfully enough to lift Old Ironsides, taking on water as she is?
Can't say. It's all quite meta right now -- or is it beta? -- and certainly it's not unique, as plenty of universities, cities and states try to keep track of alumni and business ex-pats, putting them in touch with each other. What is unique -- they think, they hope -- is the depth and vitality of that Pittsburgh connection, the vision that this city has the bones to be something more, and the straits in which Pittsburgh finds itself. (As compared to, say, the Harvard endowment account.)
There are a host of social networks in existence. What makes the Burgh Diaspora so special?
Mr. Toland asks a good question. I do think that the Burgh Diaspora is something special, but I should test my hypothesis. I'll dedicate the majority of subsequent blog posts to this question and I'll try to explain why I think that Pittsburgh's Diaspora can be successfully networked.