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May 29, 2008

Richard Florida

Cities and Ambition

« Death and Life of Public Intellectuals | Main | Super Star Cities »

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder ... A city speaks to you mostly by accident—in things you see through windows, in conversations you overhear. It's not something you have to seek out, but something you can't turn off.

This and much, much more in this fascinating new essay by Paul Graham (h/t: Ben Casnocha).


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Whitney, Watch and see what happens to Georgetown in ten years time, it is a perfect test case for your ideas. See today's NYT for a writeup on this neighbourhood;


I think that you will see it become much less diverse.

Congratulations to Obama for finally becoming the nominee!

Whitney Gunderson

Robert. Have you ever thought about why the U.S. was predominately settled from east to west? And why the European Christopher Columbus gets credit for "discovering America?" The "west," or undiscovered America, existed between two large civilizations, in Europe and China, before America was colonized in the 16th century. China is not credited with discovering America because, before the 16th century, there were two factions in China. One group wanted to build ships and sail the oceans and the other group thought building ships and sailing the oceans was foolish. The group that didn't want to build ships and sail the oceans won out, and China was destined to remain a large, isolated, eastern country.... one that was not able to settle the new found American lands from west to east. My point is that China and the United States are two very different countries, and it’s hard to compare the ingenuity of Europe and America to the isolation and mindset of China. To say one is better than the other is nonsense. You have stated that you might move to China, but now you threatened to move to Beverly Hills or whatever. It makes me curious. You have stated that you think the United States is not a tolerant country, and have presented a challenge to give examples of tolerance in America, but have not stated what community you currently live in, and have not discussed what makes you live there or what makes it good or bad. Even if you don't respond, your comments have proven fanatical, and certainly don't factor into the optimistic thinking that served to settle America and to make it the success story that it is.

Wil. You have implied that I am lying with statistics (well, maybe, you should read "How to Lie With Statistics). You have also implied that I have somehow offended you (well, maybe, you should consider me the expert in this area because I consider other people to be the expert in the business that I am in). You have also implied that you are not tolerant (West Virginia sounds like a terrible place). You have also said, before I called you on it, that first, Seattle is becoming less diverse, but then after I called you on it, that second, Seattle areas like Renton are becoming more diverse. Then to prove your point, which you discounted yourself, you posted links to articles that imply cities like San Francisco and Seattle are becoming profanely gentrified, even though articles posted on this blog, such as "Cities and Growth: In Situ Versus Migratory Human Capital Growth," declare the benefits that cities offer for people to grow and contribute to society. I reasoned that perhaps neighborhoods in cities are becoming more homogenous, while at the same time, the regions that the cities and neighborhoods occupy are becoming more tolerant and diverse. Conveniently, you haven't really acknowledged that this could be a possibility, so I would like to pose this question to you. Have you ever thought about how non-smoking policies are making cities less tolerant and diverse? I mean come on, right, having a non-smoking policy in one place or the other reduces tolerance (non-smokers don't tolerant smokers) and diversity (smokers might not go to places where they can't smoke). While this may be partly true, the overall argument is ludicrous. Non-smoking policies don't reduce diversity and tolerance in a palatable way, and actually, can serve to improve public health. You are using the smoking policy argument when you post links to articles that say neighborhoods are changing, becoming more expensive and less accessible, when the real story should be that overall regions are becoming more tolerant, diverse and educated. You are saying that since one place in one city is gentrified, the entire region is following suit. That's like saying that since people can't smoke anywhere they want to, tolerance and diversity are threatened. That's a laugh.

For me, bells always go off when I read a post that vents about unfairness, or another one of society's slights at justice, that's written by someone who doesn't use their real name or just uses their first name. If the person really thought what they were writing, why don't they back-up their remarks with their name? After some of the comments I have read in this blog post, I can see why both Robert and Wil want to disassociate themselves from their comments. If I lived in the same community, or had a professional relationship with them, the comments from both of these people would make me think twice before continuing the relationship. And somehow, in today's emotionally super-charged culture, I am the one who looks bad for calling people like Robert and Wil on senseless statements. But, I'm OK with that.


Whitney, Yes, regions are becoming more diverse, but hip neighbourhoods are becoming less diverse. Less diverse, like the examples I gave of North Beach, in San Francisco, and Georgetown in Seattle. Yes, cities offer tremendous benefits, opportunities for personal growth and contributions to society. I simply confirmed the experiences of others as being what I personally know accurately describes reality......Again, I am not saying that you are lying with statistics, that is, unfortunately, the name of the book. I dislike ad hominum comments in general, and have never characterized your statements as senseless, or said anything negative about your professionalism. In fact, I found elements of your posts about which I could make positive comments. From my perspective, I am too relaxed to be emotionally super-charged about this. I don't think you look bad to anyone, so don't worry about it.

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