Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The next global creative hotspot - Estonia?

The Christian Science Monitor has a review up right now of Richard Florida's new book, The Flight of the Creative Class: The new global competition for talent. For those who don't know, the "creative class" is a term Florida coined a number of years ago, to describe a group of people who I imagine are remarkably similar to this blog's readership - smart, highly educated, creative, socially conscious and technologically innovative. Such a group, he claims in his books (including not only artists but also business entrepreneurs, socially-conscious lawyers, venture capitalists, healthcare workers, educators and others) are the main force behind whether modern cities succeed or fail anymore; pick any city where things are lively and thriving, he opines, and you will find not only a plethora of the creative class living there, but also a city government who is doing things to convince them to live there in the first place.

Florida's latest book doesn't really hold that much of a surprise in its main posit - that such members of America's creative class are leaving the country in droves, and that ten or twenty years down the line we're going to have an educational, technological and creative crisis in the US unlike anything we've ever seen so far in the history of our country. What might be surprising, though, is where these creatives are ending up these days, including a big section in the book on the former Soviet states of eastern Europe. Just as one random little creative person out there in the world, I'd like to back up such a claim; the fact is, almost from the day I started my personal journal six years ago, I've been receiving an unusually high amount of emails from readers in exactly these countries, including what I consider freakishly huge readerships in such countries as Slovenia, Estonia and Romania. And what's more, these emails are almost always fascinating, and reveal to me a youth culture over there that is monumentally more innovative and avant-garde than anything going on here in America these days.

Anyway, I don't exactly agree with everything Florida says in his books (his theories on urban planning, for example, can get downright ridiculous at points), but I do think he's an intriguing writer worth reading. I encourage you to seek out his newest book yourself, if you're interested in reading about the coming downfall of the American Empire...which, whether you like it or not, is coming, and is coming much sooner than anyone here seems to realize.