World's Most Plugged-In Cities
Published: September 2013
By Jeryl Brunner
T+L asked three tech gurus to name today’s most plugged-in cities, plus the tools they can’t travel without.
The co-author of Chasing Cool (and former DJ for Jennifer Lopez), Noah Kerner is CEO of Noise, a New York–based Gen-Y marketing agency.
“Companies like Netflix and YouTube have realized that in order to stand out, they need to create original content—and L.A. is where much of that content gets made. I always stay at Casa del Mar (hotelcasadelmar.com; $$$$), in Santa Monica, where you can request a room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pacific. For about an hour a day, I like to stand by the ocean—for me, that’s where ideas happen. I’ll also head over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org) and Malibu’s Getty Villa (getty.edu), just to walk around. My work life is so chaotic that I like to have simple, basic experiences in my personal life.”
Must-Pack Gadget: “We’re doing the marketing for the world’s first ‘smart’ headphone: Muzik (muzikofficial.com; $299). Right from the device, you can click a button and share a song on social media, or swipe up and down to control the volume. The accompanying app connects you to an entire music ecosystem.”
Favorite App: “I use Uber (free; Android, iPhone) everywhere, so I never have to deal with taxis. It’s a car-service app, available in 18 countries around the globe. A few minutes before you leave a meeting, you can order a car, and it’s right there waiting for you. (By the way, the drivers rate you, too, so behave yourself in the back!)”
Eat: At Casa del Mar’s restaurant, Catch, they make great, slow-braised short ribs with black garlic gremolata. I have a habit of eating frequently in my hotel because it's easy. The rest of the world is busy trying white truffle venison and climbing Kilimanjaro, but me? I'll stick to the ocean and my short ribs.
Jared Schiffman is cofounder of Potion, an interactive design and technology firm that creates pieces for everyone from the Smithsonian to Tiffany & Co.
“In most places when people talk about technology, they’re just referencing websites and apps. But when you’re in Cambridge, it’s about real engineering. MIT and Harvard infuse the city with a creative, eclectic energy. Nowhere is that more evident than at the MIT Museum (mit.edu), which is focused on the culture of the university: the hacks and pranks that have occurred and the spirit of invention. I also make time for Toscanini’s (tosci.com), an ice cream place by Central Square with flavors that you’d never expect anywhere else: bourbon black pepper; Grape-Nut raisin. It’s all made right there.”
Must-Pack Gadget: “My Muji mechanical combination pen and pencil (muji.us; $4.95). You can switch from ink to graphite in a the push of a button, so you only have to carry one thing. Everything that Muji makes is perfectly designed without feeling designed.”
Favorite App: “Fifty years ago Josef Albers, a noted artist and professor at Yale, wrote The Interaction of Color, the definitive handbook on color theory. We adapted it as an interactive app (free; iPad): you can easily play with color and learn from well-known color theorists.”
Stay: Le Meridien has complimentary Wifi and views over Central Square, which has an intellectual free spirit that I haven’t found in many other places. Boston is known for being sort of buttoned up, but Central Square is the opposite of that—it feels like Berkeley to me.
A former executive at Google and Amazon, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is founder and chairwoman of Joyus, a video-based shopping website.
“London is perennially inventive. For example, they took credit cards in cabs long before anyone else. It’s also one of the leading markets in the world for social networking and e-commerce. Tech City is their Silicon Valley—companies like Amazon and Google have a big presence there. I recommend staying at the Zetter Hotel (thezetter.com; $$), a boutique property where, instead of calling room service, guests access snacks and champagne via key card on each floor. Have at least one meal at pan-Asian restaurant Inamo (inamo-restaurant.com; $$$), in Soho. All the tabletops are giant touch screens: you can view photos of the dishes, place your order, even play games.”
Must-Pack Gadget: “The Eyn iPhone case (eynproducts.com; $30) is also a hidden wallet that stores your credit cards and cash.”
Favorite App: “Kindle (free; Android; iPhone). I’m somebody who will grab two minutes to catch up on my favorite book—I’m always snacking on content. The fact that I can take twenty books on my iPhone is huge.”
Do: The Museum of Natural History sits right beside the Science Museum. If you have kids, you can take them to see old and new right beside each other: walk into one and they can try the latest gadgets, walk into the other and take a headset tour of the dinosaurs.
Stay: The Lanesborough, in Knightsbridge, is one of the oldest grande dames of the city but with computers in every room their technology rivals anything modern.
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