My long-held notion that Laptopistan’s citizens were just sitting around e-mailing other writers in other cafes around the world dissipated as I got to know the MacBook Pro owners around me. Sure, there were aspiring screenwriters, novelists and people updating Twitter, but there was also Gauri Nanda, a product designer from Detroit who created Clocky, the alarm clock on wheels that’s featured at the MoMA store and sold worldwide. There was Billy Schultz, a corporate human resources consultant crunching numbers for spreadsheets in PowerPoint and Excel (on a Lenovo PC, no less), and Meredith Sadin, working on her doctorate in American politics at Princeton.
Laptopistan’s is an entrepreneurial economy, driven by solitary thinkers. Aszure Barton, a choreographer from Alberta, was working with colleagues to prepare for her contemporary dance show called BUSK, which will debut Dec. 17 at the Jerome Robbins Theater. Robert Olinger runs a biotech startup that is getting silkworms to make spider silk at commercial scale, designs online education programs for the New York City Department of Education, and directs theater projects with Russian artists. In just a few days I met architects and event planners, database designers, classical musicians, film editors and app developers, every facet of the creative economy working under one roof, not so much together as in tandem.