Things to Consider:
Ditch the "Craft" skill. I think in a modern setting, it makes more sense as a subset of something else.
Have both a "Science" and "Technology" skill. One for fixing nuclear reactors, one for fixing cars. Ie, the Academic and practical sides of science. Or perhaps "Technology" could be a more general skill in practical, blue collar type stuff.
Do we want an "Academics" skill?
I also question the need for "Thrown" in a modern environment. It sort of marginal as it is, I would consider folding it into Brawl. You might replace it with a "Heavy Weaponry" skill, or firing Rocket Launchers, Tank Guns, et cetera.
Endurance and Resistance could certainly be folded into each other.
Thought about the "Computer" skill: If this were a game about mortals, I'd fold this into something else. But if its a game about Solars, you could create some really interesting Hacking charms. For example, in the movie Hackers, the characters hack into street lights, tv systems, and all sorts of other crazy shit that can't actually be hacked into. Well, Solars could do that.
Or it might be better to just do that as Technology charms.
So, for now, my idea of the ablity tree looks something like this (in its most radically changed version):
-Lore -Thrown -Craft -Endurance or Resistance -Archery -Ride -Sail
+Drive +Firearms +Science +Academics +Technology +Military Tech +Computer +Pilot
(There is one more being added than removed.)
I don't know how many of those I would remove. My personal opinion is that some of the old abilities are still vital in a new setting. Thrown could be folded into Athletics as it often is in modern settings, and archery could be used with firearms. However, I don't see the point of having computers, linquistics, academics, occult,cience, technology, military technology. All of these seem a little much. Possibly Academics and Lore combined to be academics, with occult referring additionally to all the old legends and lore. Science I beleive should go in with that batch. Craft and technology would go hand in hand. Some devices would require some academic skill level in addition to craft, just like some magical devices require a certain level of Occult. Computer and Pilot I think belong. Drive I am not so sure it needs to be there. I will put more thought to this when I am in front of my books and not at work.
I also think that someone's comment earlier of allowing characters to swap archaic abilities may be a good idea. Maybe this character is an order of monks that pursue perfection and enlightenment through the way of the bow and zen archery. A character like that would likely have little use for Firearms. On the other hand, the ability to use Archery should not exclude one from using Firearms. An interesting problem.
I thougth of it, too, as I like the idea of Exalted Modern in the mood of "Akira" or "Cowboy Bebop". I'd like to have a Academics Skill, but it would be better to leave Lore (which could be called Knowledge or something). Lore covers Academics, as it covers Science. I think Craft should be exchanged by Technology, which also covers Computers. Ride should Drive (as Ride can be achieved by Athletics as well as Archery), Archery is Firearms and Sail is Pilot (which should include the possibility to pilot a ship). I thought of Bureaucracy becoming Buisness, but I don't like that idea. Jiba
I think the goal with the abilities set is to not need to swap out archaic abilities. You want to have a set of abilities that suit the goal of the setting. That said, I agree that archery should be a function of athletics, and thrown should be a function of brawl. This gives these abilities added utility, as well as making things simpler. Firearms, of course, replaces archery. The loss of thrown creates a slightly more interesting opening. Heavy weapons is a reasonable option, though I might also be tempted to add War, as has been suggested in various discussions of Exalted abilities, and which we will see in second edition. Craft, however, I think should be kept. Craft is quite simply building. Any sort of construction falls under the purview of craft. I might not require exalts and heroes to specialize craft. Lore is kept. It is more like the lore of revised edition WoD games. It's the knowledge of myth and the supernatural, related to occult, though occult is more about activity than raw knowledge. I hate linguistics, I think it should be folded into the newborn Academics. Academics is linguistics, social science, mundane natural science and simple scholarliness. Fold endurance and resistance together, add technology. Tech includes computers, and is the general operation of technology, as opposed to craft, which is only build and repair. Again, ride is folded into athletics, we add drive. Pilot is added, sail is folded into that. The distinction between drive and pilot would have to be that drive is for land vehicles, pilot is for everything else. Drive could also be for vehicles of up to a certain size, pilot is for larger. If you're going with an ultra-modern world, urban sprawl to the max, then I'd call survival streetwise instead. That only makes sense if your world has little or no nature. That's just my feeling. I've had some chances to think about this, because me and some friends have been adapting Exalted rules for a modern-day superhero game.
Ability, thoughs in translating First-Second Age to Modern Occult is recommend to start no greater than two. Creation’s occult skill was not esoteric knowledge, having read Fincher’s, or WWN subscriptions but an ability to know the fundamental principles of Creation and its Essence and, most distinctly, manipulate it. Sorcery is all but dead save for the point by direct observation or Salinan Collegiate Publishings or deep inner reflection to retrieve past memories. All the occultism knowledge and traditions of the Round World generally equate Lore unless the Exalt could cause an observable and consistent effect by their actions as a result of their magical practices, before Getting the Glow. Lore and its occult knowledge are far from useless in the study/understanding/research of sorcery. Conceiving and breaking down the proper observable data benefits from Lore. Codifying and publishing a spell requires it. However, just a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. An Exalt is no mere mortal and may manipulate essence to sorcerous effect. Generally Thaumaturgy may be known at any level of occult and can be studied with the right charms or simply perception+occult rolls. A spell of the Terrestial Circle can also be cast at the accomplishment of a Wits or Intelligence (player choice)+Occult roll of difficulty five. If the roll is made an occult spell may manifest. If this is a random/research casting with no intended effect the spell produced may be random or only generally to the exalt’s intent. I wish to attack him may result in Death of Obsidian Butterflies, Blood Lash, Smoke Cobra, etc. -Martikhoras