Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
IN A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
A MISTY IMAGE OF A 1970S NEW YORK City subway token, accompanied by a sweet trumpet riff, greets visitors to Omar Wasow's corner of cyberspace. The New York Online service explores "New Yawk cultcha" the way its dread-locked, 25-year-old founder sees it: with lively, literate bulletin boards dedicated to hip hop and independent film, paeans to jazz, chats with luminaries like Harvard professor Cornell West and mass kvetching about mass transit. "I wanted to capture the city's intellectual energy," says Wasow, a Stanford University graduate who has run the service out of his Brooklyn brown-stone apartment since the fall of 1993 (the $50,000 startup costs came from savings, credit cards, family and friends). "I also wanted it to be exemplary of this incredible, heterogeneous, international hodgepodge that is the New York I grew up in." True to Wasow's vision, nyo.com (for software, write to email@example.com) attracts a far more diverse crowd than the online giants: Of its 2,000 subscribers nationwide, over half are African-American.
"New York Online is like the subway, a network that links the entire city," he says. "The difference is that here people are talking to one another."