Creativity compacted

I know, I said I was leaving, and I am, but I just had to share this before I went. A brief but interesting post over on [polis] today on Congestion and Creativity.

“Stephen Johnson in his book, “Where Good Ideas Come From,” pulls from the work of theoretical physicist Geoffrey West, whose research investigates whether urban life slows down as cities grow in size, just as metabolism slows down when living organisms scale up in size. While the slowdown is apparent in energy and transportation growth in city living, to his delight (and ours), human ingenuity accelerates in the congested urban environment:

A city that was ten times larger than its neighbor wasn’t ten times more innovative; it was seventeen times more innovative  […] that despite all the noise and crowding and distraction, the average resident of a metropolis with a population of five million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of a hundred thousand.

The will to endeavor thrives among creative groups in hyper-interconnected, fluidly networked dense cities.”

Follow the link to see what Min Li Chan has to say on how this idea effects smaller cities.

I find this information really interesting, in probably too literal a sense, having made the transition from smaller to larger city in the last five years. The differences between the two cities, especially in terms of the scale of the creative community in each place, in my experience would back up these findings. Having said that, I don’t have any real data behind me, it’s more just a a gut reaction to my surroundings. But the idea that creativity charts an exponential curve in more congested places really resonates. To the point of it being unsettling.

I mean, it’s unsettling to suggest the reverse. That one would be less creative in a smaller city. That just seems unfair, no?


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