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5.0 out of 5 stars The Cognitive Elite: Now you see it; now you don't
Possibly anyone who wrote a book on the ´¿Creative Class´¿ just before 2003 should be exempt from critical review ´¿ just like anyone who wrote an investment guide in 1928, or a colonial government primer in 1775. But ´¿The Rise of the Creative Class´¿ has recently been reissued in paperback, is frequently quoted by ambitious...
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by Celia Redmore

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too broad of a definition for creativity
Florida's idea of a creative person is the software engineer who develops alternate downloadable ring tones for your telephone, or the Saturn engineers and marketers who come up with fake wood aftermarket car dashboard appliques. This is a degraded definition of creativity, one sure to include just about everyone in society up to and including the roofer installing an...
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by Gigi


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too broad of a definition for creativity, Oct. 25 2003
Florida's idea of a creative person is the software engineer who develops alternate downloadable ring tones for your telephone, or the Saturn engineers and marketers who come up with fake wood aftermarket car dashboard appliques. This is a degraded definition of creativity, one sure to include just about everyone in society up to and including the roofer installing an asphalt shingle on your roof, provided she makes the critical choice of applying the shingle one quarter inch to the right rather than one quarter inch to the left.
In its own sweet way, Florida's "creatives," or at least his watered-down definition of same, is as prejudiced as classic racists, homophobes, and sexists. Only instead of attempting to shunt blacks to the back of the bus, Florida's burgeoning "creative" managers are sending the working class factory jobs to China and the service class jobs to India. Having to live near these people, it would seem, is too painful for someone who markets Viagra for a living.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The rise of the over indulged techno class, March 18 2003
This book states (and restates and restates) that there is this creative class that is making money and transforming cities into vibrant economies if they are given the freedoms they need to stay creative. Sadly while he in name only includes artists, writers and musicians he seems only concerned with creative technology folks. Sure they are making money but artists continue to do what they do and have always had liveable communities. Economically viable? Well they don't have a starbucks on every corner and they can't afford hip nightlife and funky grocery stores but people have been making art weather or not cities chose to cater to them. The overpaid techies who have the privlege of comanding huge salaries and little personal responsiblity for their wealth need more put on a silver platter for them. Artists and creative types have rarely looked to others for their sustainablity. This is a book that is so shallow in its approach to creativity an a truly authentic and sustainable city economy that it left me annoyed. And the passing references to this Creative Class being very diverse but not black made me sit up. Some of the most gifted (and popular) artists, musicians, writers and directors are black, surely they make up some of this group. But not in Austin, not in Texas where being black is dangerous. Mr. Florida has created a neat package, trendy catch phrase and tidy profit, but he has not tapped or understood true creativity.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a relic of the bubble economy, June 1 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rise Of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (Paperback)
This book was conceived during the 1990s when the high-tech bubble economy caused a labor shortage which made it possible for recent college grads with the right "hot" skills to "write their own tickets". Professor Florida wondered why Pittsburgh, his home town, was having trouble attracting high-tech talent, and graduates from local schools were choosing to move away. He found that these young, single, upper-income, well-educated people were making job choices based on geography. They wanted to live somewhere "fun" for young people. That is with amenities such as a vibrant night life, opportunities for outdoor recreation such as biking, rock climbing, etc. Thus they chose places like Austin TX with its music scene over Pittsburgh with its symphony.
This is interesting enough, and Florida makes the connection to earlier work (especially that of Jane Jacobs) on what makes a city an "authentic" and interesting place to live.
It is well known that as time goes on, so-called "knowledge workers" are becoming a larger and larger part of the economy. However Florida, perhaps driven to some "irrational exuberance" by the bubble economy we were living in when he was writing this, makes some pretty outlandish claims for the importance and power of this class of workers (which he calls "the creative class"). As of mid-2004, this all seems a quaint relic of 1990s "new economy" optimism.
He also fails to address two things which have had a huge impact on the labor market in recent years:
He mentions but does not address at any length the collapse of the high-tech bubble, and what impact this change will have on the phenomena he describes. It would seem that most of what he describes is (at least for now) no longer true, as high-tech workers can no longer pick and choose but are now in the position of being glad to find any job at all.
He does not mention at all the phenomenon of overseas outsourcing. This may not have been a hot topic when the book was written but by the time (Fall '03) he wrote the preface to the paperback edition it was so, and he does not even mention it, despite the fact that it is at the very least having a large psychological effect on the high-tech job market.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves us hanging, May 19 2004
By 
D. S. Bornus (St. Paul, MN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rise Of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (Paperback)
This book presents an interesting concept but the author doesn't tell us what to do with this information. He suggests that the "creative class" must become conscious of their identity as a class and begin to act in concert, but he doesn't outline a method for doing this. One would think that he would want to provide a platform for the unification and interaction of a class which he has identified.
The author suggests that municipalities would be wise to structure their geography to attract creative class individuals. Another approach, which he does not consider, would be a strategy to develop more creative class individuals from the resident population. Unlike other natural resources, which are finite, creative class capital can be generated by educational opportunities and personal development.
An interesting thought occurred to me while reading this book: Dr. Florida describes creative class individuals as uninterested in group conformity. Meanwhile, the major political parties become increasingly polarized and intolerant of dissent within the ranks, sidelining independent-thinking "moderates." Thus public policy is being developed by parties who have driven the creative class out from their midst. This, more than anything, may be the most critical issue for the creative class to confront.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting--surprisingly informative and worthwhile., Feb. 20 2004
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This review is from: The Rise Of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (Paperback)
I think many of the preceding reviews provide insight on this book: the argument is a tough-sell, it relies on generalizations, and it doesn't get everything right. However, I don't this book is meant to be a final statement, but rather the beginning. Taken in that light, Florida's work has great importance for cities and governments as we try to lay the foundations for sustained prosperity and happiness in the USA.
At a time when stadium boondoggles are soaking taxpayers around the country, Florida's book is urgently relevant. The argument may need some work, but hey: entrepreneurs of all kinds tend to thrive in a diverse, artsy, weird, non-conformist environment. Corporate welfare is not the answer (see Detroit), bike lanes and grunge music is (see Portland, OR).
Wealth and happiness is ultimately created by people, not by giant corporations. Devising a great place to live, where people have great parks, schools, arts, and freedoms is the best path to the well being of economies and citizens alike.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Creative Class, Feb. 19 2004
Richard Florida´¿s book, ´¿The Rise of the Creative Class´¿, provides readers with some interesting ideas about economic and social growth. Throughout the book, Florida relates economic growth to creativity and diversity, without one, you may not have the other. In addition, he identifies 3 Ts as necessary for growth: technology, talent and tolerance. While planning for the future, cities no only have to look at economic development, but must look at the climate the city provides for the arts. Recently moving from South Dakota, one of the areas Florida describes as have high social capital but lacking economic growth, Florida´¿s ideas about fostering an environment in which creativity thrives ring true. Economic development does not mean acquiring a chain restaurant, but it should include developing an authentic local environment that allows creativity to flourish.
Many criticize Florida´¿s use of the Bohemian Index and Gay Index (however well it correlates to economic growth), citing the information does not apply to the majority of middle class Americans. The paperback edition of Florida´¿s book contains a preface where the author points out that the creative environment is not limited to a city itself, but a region that allows people to live in the environment that suits them the best, i.e. Silicon Valley and San Francisco together provide an environment to growth. I do, however, find Florida's diversity ranking a bit lacking. Honolulu, one of the most diverse areas I have lived in, does not seem very diverse, because Asians and Pacific Islanders were considered as one racial/ethnic group.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't it be lover-ly, Feb. 14 2004
By A Customer
This book is a big sloppy wet-kiss to the book-buying audience that this marketing project is actually targeted towards, but contains no real practical philosophy! Take it from one who lives in one of Florida's "dream-towns", (Madison, WI), it's all about self-back-patting and self-congratulating, rather than developing a real pragmatic economic philosphy. This book is like the handbook for wearing rose-colored glasses! Town's like Madison, are just that...TOWNS...NOT thriving cultural centers...just populated by those who would like to believe they are. My argument against this book IS NOT an argument against diversity (which this book cloaks itself in for maximum protection from critics), nor a critique of towns that can be nice places to live for some people, it's a critique of a marketing concept packaged in a book, designed to sell lots of books...but then again, they say you can't rape the willing! Florida's disregard for history and the role that "creatives" have played in Western civilization is disconcerting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Cognitive Elite: Now you see it; now you don't, Jan. 25 2004
Possibly anyone who wrote a book on the ´¿Creative Class´¿ just before 2003 should be exempt from critical review ´¿ just like anyone who wrote an investment guide in 1928, or a colonial government primer in 1775. But ´¿The Rise of the Creative Class´¿ has recently been reissued in paperback, is frequently quoted by ambitious politicians, and is still being touted by its author. Therefore, it matters that we re-examine its contents carefully.
Richard Florida´¿s thesis is that there is a niche group of society, which over the past century has grown to become a separately identifiable class in its own right, distinguishable from the Working Class or the Service Sector Class or the almost-disappeared class of agricultural workers. This is different from saying that today´¿s better-educated workers need less direct supervision, or that many jobs vary more in content from day to day than used to be the case.

The author struggles mightily to define the nearly one-third of the population that he calls ´¿creative´¿ as a valid class. He proposes definitions, backs up a couple of pages later, corrects his proposal, and starts off down another path. The result is more of an out loud conversation with himself than a clearly delineated model. There are no neat conclusions here.
The book uses both published sources and the author´¿s own research to identify the characteristics of his new class: who they are and what motivates them. Sometimes the sources are of doubtful value.
One has to wonder why he would turn to his public policy students at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University to find out why highly-paid manufacturing jobs are no longer attractive to young blue-collar workers. A stroll through any of Pittsburgh´¿s poorer neighborhoods would surely have elicited a more sensible and substantive response than that such jobs were ´¿insufficiently creative´¿.
Similarly, the book quotes an Information Week magazine survey of high-tech workers on what mattered to them. Florida reads the low rating of stock options as a motivator to mean that respondents valued ´¿creative work´¿ more than money. As one of those respondents, I can tell you that we were simply saying that the declining stock market had rendered all our options worthless. We were tired of being paid in funny money.
A core point in the book´¿s thesis is that ´¿creative workers´¿ deliberately move to ´¿diverse, open, tolerant´¿ regions and that ´¿creative companies´¿ follow them there ´¿ a reverse of the earlier pattern of workers going to where the jobs were. This is one of the many patterns Florida tries to pin down, but which squirm under his microscope. San Francisco follows the pattern, but pleasantly homogenous, middle-class Austin, TX is a high-tech Mecca, while funky, artistic, open, tolerant, diverse New Orleans lags.
Tolerant of whom, by whom? Florida points out that there is a negative correlation between ´¿non-whites´¿ and ´¿creative class´¿ companies. The best leading indicator is the presence of a gay community. But is it surprising or meaningful, that the most affluent areas of the country are frequently home to double-male-income, no-kids households? Surely, this datum isn´¿t enough to define a new class?
Dr Florida assumes ´¿ as did most of us ´¿ that 2002 represented the nadir of the US economy and that we were rapidly returning to a more ´¿normal´¿ job situation. In retrospect, we were all wrong, but what can one say about the ´¿Creative Class´¿ thesis with the benefit of hindsight? Let´¿s quote, as the book does, Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, the quintessential ´¿creative class´¿ leader of the time:
´¿Keep your tax incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly skilled people are.´¿
Most recently, this same CEO has angrily declared her ´¿right´¿ to move those same jobs to a tax-shelter in funky, artistic ´¿. Bangalore. If a million jobs can be re-categorized overnight from ´¿Creative Class´¿ to commodity ´¿Service Sector´¿, were they ever really part of a ´¿Creative Class´¿ at all?
** Dr Florida has created a web site that can legitimately be regarded as an informal addendum to the book: [...] .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Book, but a Call-to-Action!, Nov. 24 2003
By 
Dana "Dana VanDen Heuvel" (Green Bay, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Rise of the Creative Class
Far from being a flavor-of-the-month type of book like so many on my shelf that were written during the height of the dot-com era, The Rise of the Creative Class methodically lays out the imperatives for our creative-class members in this, the era where knowledge and human capital is king. In fact, recent reports cite figures of upwards of 80% of the valuation of organizations is in its human and intellectual capital resources.
Who's in the Creative Class?
Dr. Florida takes a stab at explaining 'creativity' in the beginning of the book, lists a batter of elements that make it seem as if each and every one of is almost part of the Creative Class. It's true; creativity is all around us. There are many ways for one to be creative, as is illustrated in the book; however, I tend to regard the creative class as anyone who derives their livelihood from investing in and harvesting their intellectual and human capital in the perpetual game of problems and solutions. Dr.'s, artists, movie producers, computer programmers, you and me - you get the point. We're all creative in one-way or another.
Dr. Florida presents the issue of "who's actually in the Creative Class" in much the same way, by listing some of the occupations that make up the Creative Class. Arguments about class wars aside, it pays to put some parameters around this 'thing' we call the Creative Class
There are two major groups of the creative class: a Super-Creative Core and creative professionals
Super-Creative Core
* Computer & math occupations
* Architects & engineers
* Scientists
* Education & library
* Art, design, media, entertainment and sports occupations
I'm not sure why sports occupations show up there, as I don't feel that your average athlete is a member of the elite creative class (although, they are certainly members of 'some' elite class).
Creative Professionals
* Management
* Business & financial operations
* Legal
* Healthcare (Dr.'s & technicians)
* High-end sales & sales management
Paint by Numbers
The book is based a great deal on the stats and analysis, but wouldn't pay much attention to that if you didn't read into the appendix and weren't a keen number cruncher yourself. Much of the story that's told in this book deals with psychology, sociology, and human factors in general. This is a story about who we are, as humans, irrational thought and all.
3T's of Economic Development
In order for any city to take on the challenge of creative a creative class friendly area, they must commit to the development of the 3-T's of economic development: Technology, Tolerance, and Talent
We Have our Marching Orders
Perhaps the greatest thing this book has to offer is that it has been an impetus for dozens of cities around the country to stand up and take notice of the swelling creative class around them and take steps toward shaping their cities to become havens for these creative class members who inherently seek employment in areas which exhibit several of the following factors:
* Inherent opportunities for life experiences
* Recreation of many sorts nearby
* Street level, just-in-time culture and entertainment
* Varied night life
* Penchant for diversity
Social and environmental factors play a significant role in the attraction and retention of creative class workers to their respective cities, but workers often derive significant intrinsic value and reward from their occupations, which their employers must take note of. Well beyond money, creative class workers are interested in much more than a paycheck.
Creative Class Workplace Imperatives
* Challenge and responsibility - make a difference & do exciting work
* Flexibility - flexible schedule & work environment
* Stable environment with relative job security
* Professional development - creative class workers are investors in their own human capital
* Compensation
* Peer recognition
* Stimulating colleagues and managers
* Exciting job content
* Creative organizational culture
* Location and community (see above)
The Rise of the Creative Class is really not a book, a story, or even a report. It's a genuine call-to-action if there ever were one. So much of one that's it's prompted dozens of cities around the country, our own beloved Green Bay included, to bring in Dr. Florida and his team to diagnose the situation and prescribe, with the help of hundreds of civic and business leaders, the next steps in taking their respective regions to the next level in the struggle to join the 'creative age.'
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5.0 out of 5 stars A response to the negative criticism of Damon Gardenhire, Sept. 6 2003
By A Customer
Damon, you begin your bitter tantrum claiming that Florida, "impl[ies] contempt for average middle-class Americans in the very premise of the book." Florida's middle class father worked in a factory, becoming foreman. Young Florida begged his father to take him to see the factory. As they stood by the machines, his father explained to young Florida that however impressive were the machines, it was the people who ran them that mattered most to the company. The earliest and most guiding value young Florida learned was a deep respect for his father, and the class to which he belonged.
You claim that "Average middle-class Americans are the people who got this country to where it is -- not tattooed Bohemians." Please define your terms. The middle class as we know it didn't exist until long after America was well established. Who built this country? The religiously persecuted outcasts who refused to conform and had no where else to turn and nothing to lose, established this country. In other words bohemians established it. Pilgrims were homeless and irresponsible vagrants from the point of view of the authorities who persecuted the Pilgrims. Slaves and voluntarily indentured servants built this country, who in every sense were homeless, thought irresponsible, and in any case vagrant anyplace other than on the plantations of wealthy venture capitalists. This cadre was neither average, nor middle class. But this only speaks to the material construction of early America.
As to the political creation of our country, from the royal point of view, the settlers lived on the landlord's soil without paying rent or tax of any kind. We, politically, were homeless and vagrant. From the royal point of view, the participants of the Boston Tea Party, the revolutionary war, the Declaration of Independence, each and all were politically irresponsible, thus bohemian.
As for American cultural development, an American literary genre developed out of the Bohemian experience before there ever was a middle class in America around such characters as Dave Crocket, Daniel Boone, and many others. Further, once a middle class developed, rather than forsaking its bohemian roots, it embraced them in literary, musical, and other genres; John Muir personifies the American Spirit, as does Willie Nelson in his bohemian anthem "On the Road Again," where place becomes a loci of movement and home is a motor home. Indeed this spirit is manifest in our love of the automobile, a wanderlust that is, in the words of Chevy, "The Heartbeat of America". We are a restless people, first to fly, let alone walk on the moon, and if only in our imagination, "... going where no one has gone before."
Finally, to whom do you suppose Lady Liberty speaks with her inscription "Give me your poor...huddled masses"? Obviously not the middle class. This invitation is addressed to those who have radically broken geographic and ideological ties not so much by choice, but of desperate necessity, and who have nothing left but hope in the American Dream, a faith so strong it transcends all difference: E Pluribus Unum. These are the bohemians, the builders of America. My grandfather, many times removed, was one, a Scott starving in the Potato famine. I now am middle class.
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