Social Spaces and Creativity

I was born in a city and lived my life in some of the most crowded cities in the world – Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Bombay, New York. About 10 years ago I moved to the Silicon Valley and now spend my time between the Bay area and bustling (almost bursting) Chennai.

I know I like cities in spite of all the congestion and problems. But I never knew why. That is, till I read this eloquent piece  on  The Laws of Urban Energy.

while technology may give us each the tools of creativity, it takes urban proximity and unpredictability to sharpen them.

The potential edge that urban dwellers enjoy over their country cousins can be linked to having more and different people to meet, and more meeting places—parks, coffee shops, parties, or simply the sidewalk

“diversity” means not necessarily ethnicity, race, or religion, but a range of perspectives and skill sets that intersect to create what he calls “superadditivity”—problem-solving power that is more than the sum of its parts.

In order to get the intellectual benefits of diversity, you first have to actually talk to a wide variety of people. 
Some industries depend much more on face-to-face knowledge than others. In quantitative analysis of economic data, for example, the relevant knowledge can be printed in a manual, meaning firms and skilled workers can be located anywhere, according to economists Michael Storper and Anthony Venables. But being on the scene is important when it comes to buzz industries—”culture, politics, arts, academia, new technologies, and advanced finance”—in other words, everything people discuss in a wine bar in Tribeca on a Saturday night.

2 thoughts on “Social Spaces and Creativity

  1. my personal experience has been somewhat different.
    i like the bustle of cities, but there is very little time for each other.

    in smaller towns – particularly in villages or the hills, one finds more social interactions and awareness of the surroundings and neighbors.

    in my flat, for example, i tend to meet some of the residents either in the parking lot occasionally or in our email group!

    the virtual cafes are more suited in this fast world.

    p.s. of course, i like meetings in coffee bars.. the electronic world still cannot produce the aroma of coffee or the noise in a sportsbar!

  2. I understood the point of the article was not the predictable meetings that you have, but the unpredictable ones. In villages you may meet the same people over and over again.

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