Friday, August 11, 2006

The Ungeography of the Creative Class

My latest content connection sprouts from part of Thomas Barnett's knowledge cluster, Coming Anarchy. Their traditional geopolitical musings turned towards the migratory geographies of creative people. The observation is that the creative class flocks to various knowledge centers to be among the like-minded and expand one's horizon. The subsequent hypothesis is that the virtual knowledge communities of Web 2.0 are busy marginalizing the variable of proximity to important knowledge centers.

The Paducah success story might offer some support to the above assertion. In this case, real estate opportunity trumps proximity to more established artist communities. I don't think anyone would have a problem poking holes in that narrative, but leaving New York City for Western Kentucky deserves a least a few scratches of the head.

More compelling are the various blog networks that form intentional virtual communities of practice. In my case, I am a non-Pittsburgh native who lives in the Front Range of Colorado engaging other people all over the country concerning all things Pittsburgh. Do I need to be in Pittsburgh to feed my passion? I'd like to live there, but it isn't necessary (at least right now). My involvement in the Pittsburgh community is not dependent on proximity to Pittsburgh.

Few, if anyone, are claiming that virtual communities are effacing geography, but location is no longer a prerequisite for joining a group. I don't need to live in Pittsburgh and posses season tickets to be a Steelers fan. Meanwhile, knowledge centers are springing up online, providing anyone with an opportunity to engage other folks passionate about the same subject.

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