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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on October 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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on 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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on June 1, 2004
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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on February 8, 2004
Richard Florida's thesis -- rising creativity as elixer of prosperity -- is astonishingly uninformed about American history. His attempt to reduce creativity to occupational counts from the census is misleading in the extreme. Consider, for instance, the inginuity in people like Eli Whitney, John Ireland Howe, or John D. Rockefeller None of the three would have fallen within a "creative" occupation on Florida's telling. Yet each of the three illustrates the kind of creativity which creates wealth for society.
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on June 25, 2002
This book is basically a bloated, out of touch, academic thesis with a good premise all of us alienated corporate blocked creative types would love to believe. If you look closely at Florida's prose, anyone who has a random penchant for a "new thought" is consolidated into this new creative class which seems to me to include too many security conscious treacly liberals who think building an opera house in the overly controlled town square is an expression of social consciousness and creativity. There is no distinction regarding sustainable, honestly intelligent creative ideas and middlebrow attempts to jump on the creative bandwagon. This book seems to be attempting to mainstream creativity in the broadest spectrum possible to grate a theme. Also, he needs to do more research: his paragraph on the demographics of brooklyn/nyc neighborhoods is a decade out of date. He stated young people gravitate to Park Slope, Williamsburg, East Village, etc. and once they get more upwardly mobile, move to the Upper West Side to raise their young. Park Slope is a mecca (since '95) for families and upper incomes. Park Slope has gotten quite suburban and it is expensive to live here. It is not, any longer, a place where you see green hair and just out of college displays of bohemian angst. I think Mr. Florida's book makes for an intersting discussion, but I feel he is writing it from an ivory tower and hasn't done his investigative street journalism work. The charts are ridiculous, and I have lived in at least a few of the cities he's mentioned, and his descriptions seem coerced to fit his thesis to me.
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on June 16, 2003
With the possible exception of educators, writers, artists, and entertainers, the jobs that these so-called 'creatives' perform will be outsourced to cheaper countries. One only has to read the business section of the Seattle dailies to confirm the notion that 'creative class' be damned - many a company's decision to outsource various engineers, etc. to countries with cheaper sources of labor.
"Cultural Creatives" beware, if you work for anyone but yourself, you could be next.
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on December 28, 2003
So how is this book a "rise" of the creative class? Mr. Florida either does not know, or does not want to know (for it would scuttle his thesis) that there were just as many of these "creative" people fifty, a hundred, two hundred years ago. Does he not think there were engineers then finding better ways to make cars, build bridges, transmit voice, fly, perform surgery, etc? From his ridiculously broad definition of "creativity" (basically, anyone in any capacity with a new idea), except for those involved in rote drudgery everyone is creative. Fine, so how is this radically different from the past, other than the book's flap says it is? The author seems to suffer from a very myopic vision of workplace history. Although new breakthroughs in technology permit flexibility and speed our forefathers could only dream of, the "creative spirit" he speaks of is hardly new and hardly unique. Yet another example (the publishing world seems to be full of them nowadays) of an author in search of a conceit to base a big, thick $30 book around.
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