Archive for January, 2009

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jan 27th 2009 at 9:22am UTC

The M-List

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

A-list, B-list, C-list. Now the M-list – M is for Meltdown. The Guardian put together this list of the 25 people “at the heart of the meltdown.” Do you agree? And do you think history will be harsh on all of them?

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Jan 26th 2009 at 8:09am UTC

Workplace Trend: Four-day Week?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Would you opt for a four-day work week (and 20 percent pay cut) or other voluntary work reduction to help your employer avoid mass layoffs?

At KPMG’s London operation over 80 percent said yes. According to the Globe and Mail:

The Firm’s London office has offered its 11,000 British workers the option of moving to a four-day week, or taking a sabbatical with reduced pay. So far, more than 80 per cent of its partners have raised their hands.

For employers like KPMG who know they face a worldwide talent shortage during strong economic times, this solution offers a way to maintain a workforce that theoretically can be ramped back up during boom times. Plus, they hang on to valuable “intellectual capital” as detailed in the above-quoted article.

I suspect a number of people today would happily trade having more personal time for salary given the chance. The bigger question may be whether people will voluntarily return to five-day weeks once the economy rebounds.

Your thoughts?

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Jan 26th 2009 at 7:57am UTC

What’s Up at Microsoft?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Microsoft laid off 1,400 workers on Friday, en route to as many as 5,000 – the first layoffs ever at the company.

Less than two years ago, Microsoft couldn’t find enough qualified software engineers in the United States that they were begging for H1-B Visas to import them. They also opened up a development center in Richmond BC, just outside of Vancouver (and only two hours drive from Redmond, WA) to take advantage of more skilled-immigrant-friendly Canadian government policies.

What’s going on? Anyone know? Have thoughts?

Is Microsoft really struggling enough to shed talent so fiercely fought for?

Is America now over-supplied with software developer talent?

Or is Microsoft taking advantage of a crisis to shed unproductive workers or corporate divisions?

Steve Ballmer does mention that Microsoft expects to hire 2,000 – 3,000 people over the next year or so (suggesting things are not that bad).

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jan 23rd 2009 at 8:33am UTC

Where Do Cities Come From?

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Arnold Kling asks:

Today, we think of cities as places where people come to thrive. Wealth is higher in cities than in small towns and rural areas. Richard Florida tells us that the creative class is to be found in cities.

On the other hand, reading accounts of cities as of 1850 or earlier, they sound like death traps. People are less healthy in cities. Life spans are shorter. Poverty is Dickensian. I picture pre-modern cities the way I picture Russia today: people living off government assistance or criminal enterprise or sale of personal belongings; death at an early age; etc.

I wonder: who came to cities? Was it people without land? Were cities like an awful lottery that people would play when they had no other choice? A bunch of landless people gathered together to prey on one another, with the winners thriving (moving to the country as soon as they could afford it) and the losers enduring a Hobbesian existence, where life was nasty, brutish and short?

Did that make America in the eighteenth century seem like paradise, with its endless supply of land? Why were there cities in America? Was Jefferson’s preference for yeoman farmers a natural reflection of the relative state of urban vs. rural existence?

What would Jane Jacobs say?

In a series of famous passages, Jacobs argued that cities actually grew up alongside, and even before, advanced agriculture. It was cities – locations with dense, trading populations – that encouraged the transformation and modernization of agriculture. However difficult life might have been inside them, it was cities, according to Jacobs, that were the spur for modern economic growth and development.

Here’s a nice summary:

Jacobs contends that both animal husbandry and agriculture were most likely to have originated in the earliest urban settlements. Further, those settlements were the result of Paleolithic trade, and it was the intensification of trade in those early cities that paved the way for the development of agriculture and animal husbandry.

And another:

But don’t cities arise from and depend on agriculture? No: all economic progress originates in cities, Jacobs tells us; and cheekily adds that all agricultural progress originates in cities. Great advances, such as mechanical reapers and electricity, were invented and adopted in or near cities before being applied to agricultural regions farther out. Productivity improvements in agriculture always begin near the cities and spread out.

What we think of as purely rural activities often began in the cities. In premodern Europe, the quintessential cottage industry was weaving; but before cloth was woven in cottages the art was rediscovered and practiced in cities. Dark Ages peasants lived on gruel; the art of breadmaking was recovered first in cities (and based on city-grown bread; a medieval city had its own fields). In our own rural areas there are vast ranches where animals are fattened before slaughter; they are transplants from the city stockyards of Kansas City and Chicago.

Your thoughts?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jan 22nd 2009 at 4:45pm UTC

Tax Cuts –> Transit

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

That’s what the proposed $800 plus billion U.S. stimulus has come to. TPM’s Elena Schor has the details direct from Representative Jim Oberstar’s (D-MN) speech fo the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

That is why we set forth this $85-billion initiative from our committee. It’s been reduced in the final going. We expect that it’ll come out somewhere around $63 billion, but $30 billion for highways.  The reason for the reduction in overall funding — we took money out of Amtrak and out of aviation; we took money out of the Corps of Engineers, reduced the water infrastructure program, the drinking water and the wastewater treatment facilities and sewer lines, reduced that from $14 billion to roughly $9 billion — was the tax cut initiative that had to be paid for in some way by keeping the entire package in the range of $850 billion.

Ryan Avent has more to say here; Matt Yglesias here.

So it’s yes to highways and tax cuts, no to transit. I’m speechless.

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Thu Jan 22nd 2009 at 7:41am UTC

Canadian Youth Camp; Obama from the GG’s Ballroom

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

On Tuesday, I DJ’d a party for the Governor General of Canada celebrating Barack Obama’s Inauguration. It was a cool little affair that brought a diversity of youth together to discuss what this event means to us as young Canadians. Peace to Emcee E and Nomadic Massive who also performed. At the end of the blog I’ll post my playlist, since people often wonder what one might play at an event like that.

In as much as we are different, Canada and the U.S. in fundamental ways – landmass, population, density, demographics, political structure, etc. – we are the same in that we are neighbors and share the same land and, in broad strokes, share ideals about how life should be lived. This event and the reactions in the room showed how more than ever the American dream is really a North American dream that we all take part in.

Young people are definitely empowered by President Obama as a living example of change. It’s interesting, however, to see how hungry young Canadians are to play a role in and identify with this change. As neighbors to ground zero of the global Obama-wave, and a nation that is deeply interlinked with the U.S., it is natural and fair that we pose the question “where is our Canadian change?”, and not unreasonable that we would yearn somewhat for an Obama figure of our own – to give young people a sense that their voices participate as equals in their democracy. In this new vision of the North American dream, what will Canada’s role be and where will its youth place?

While Canada’s version of the dream is younger, less dense, a bit smaller, and more cautious, it is sturdy, perhaps a bit more agile, and has the advantage of being able to consider the trials and missteps of its older, bolder neighbor in order to innovate on that experience and those ideas – probably in a faster and more dexterous way as a result of being over 60 percent slimmer in terms of population and density. While we might not do the scaling up, we are in a great position to build the models. The climate will most certainly be ripe for the ideas. More than anything, I think that’s where young people, particularly in Canada, will be participating heavily. Whereas Barack finally opened the door for youth in the U.S. to participate in driving the U.S. with their vote, he might have also opened the window for young Canadians to make significant contributions to the welfare of this continent with their ideas – particularly with the U.S. school system in the state that it’s in. With any luck, the positive feedback loop between the two countries will help us retrofit the way that leaders lead in Canada, because one thing that was voiced repeatedly at the forum is that we need that kind of reform.

While the U.S. is being clear that it wants to set the pace, how can young people in Canada help to finish the race, considering our position as neighbors and co-participants in the dream? What is the most constructive way to set up this partnership?  How can we see the innovations in the democratic process invoked over the border be brought into play over here?

And now, the inaugural playlist:

  1. We Almost Lost Detroit – Gil Scott Heron
  2. My People…Hold On – Eddie Kendricks
  3. Long Time Coming – Aloe Blacc
  4. Stakes Is High – De La Soul
  5. Resurrection – Common Sense
  6. The Souljazz Orchestra – Mista President*
  7. Black President (Feat Johnny Polygon)  – Nas
  8. Voices At The Crossroads – Knaan f. Tracy Chapman*
  9. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
  10. Change – Donald Byrd
  11. Get Involved – Soule, George
  12. Positivity (Mark Ronson ‘68 Remix) – Stevie Wonder
  13. Brand New Day – Staple Singers
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jan 21st 2009 at 11:54am UTC

Obama’s Urban Policy

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The new administration’s urban policy is here (h/t Aleem Kanji).

My first reaction is to be nice and say we should all give them time to get their act together.

But right now, there’s very little new thinking or strategy here, and even less evidence that anyone has a grasp of role location plays in the economy and of the powerful geographic forces that are reshaping the global and U.S. economies. It’s essentially a retread of Clinton-era urban policy, with the Bush-era homeland security add-on, plus some more emphasis on green and neighborhoods.

I sure hope they don’t start pouring stimulus money into this smorgasbord approach…

Your thoughts…

Rana Florida
by Rana Florida
Wed Jan 21st 2009 at 9:49am UTC

Dayton’s C Space

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Check out Dayton’s C Space - spurred by our Creative Class Leadership Program launched last March.

Creative Incubator is energizing the city core by providing venues for street-level culture and arts…

The Dayton Creative Incubator Initiative is conceived as a project to bring life back to one or several vacant downtown spaces by working with building owners to allow local artists to use the spaces for creating and displaying art- as well as providing community spaces where artists, musicians and other creatives can hang out, network and simply exchange creative ideas.

What an amazing transformation!  What do you think about Dayton’s C Space?

Christian Unverzagt
by Christian Unverzagt
Mon Jan 19th 2009 at 5:05pm UTC

Out of Business (Intentionally)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Steven Heller checks in with designer Stefan Sagmeister in Print Magazine about his second, self-imposed “year without clients” in Bali. Ever since his first sabbatical in 2001 (spent at home in New York City), Sagmeister now structures his business to allow for this period of experimentation once every seven years. And while he may have had the fortunate foresight to schedule this time away before the current economic downturn, recessionary times often lead to advances and innovation in design and the arts. With today’s uncertainly of not knowing if one will even be able to retire, why not make use of some of that time now and put it to work? What else might we learn from Sagmeister and his time away? “When attacked by hollow-eyed Balinese dogs, I can make them scatter by pretending to pick up a stone.”

David Miller
by David Miller
Mon Jan 19th 2009 at 11:28am UTC

Personalities in the Blogosphere

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Over the past couple of years, Richard has been integrating personality research (such as that done by Jason Renfrow) into his work on location, growth, and quality of place.

Last week, while playing on Twitter I came across a website that analyzes the personality of blogs. is a bare bones site/application that claims to “find out what type” a blog is. It offers a simple box to enter the URL of the blog to be typealized.

Being a mere mortal, I couldn’t resist Typealyzer and entered my primary blog – Campus Entrepreneurship.

The output, which came up quickly, said my blog was an INTJ or “Scientist.” INTJ is a personality type based on the Myers-Briggs test. The good news for Typealyzer is that I took a standard (seemingly unending) Myers-Briggs test during business school and came out an INTJ. Here is the description from Typealyzer’s output:

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it – often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be physically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communicating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. Since they are extremely good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.

I then ran my posts on Same output.

Next I “typealyzed” Richard’s postings. They came came out an INTJ or “Scientist.”

I then ran the Ask Rana column. The output from Typealyzer said Ask Rana is an ENTJ or one of “The Executives.” The description states:

The direct and assertive type. They are especially attuned to the big picture and how to get things done.They are talented strategic planners, but might come off as insensitive to others needs and appear arrogant. They like to be where the action is and like making bold and sweeping changes in complex situations.

The Executives are happy when their work let them learn and improve themselves and how things work around them. Not being very shy about expressing their ideas and often very outgoing they often make excellent public speakers.

I then ran Mark Cuban’s blog – The output for the blog was ISTJ: The Duty Fulfillers:

The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever.

The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be let alone and to be able to work in their own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it.

I don’t know Cuban, and he may be conservative by nature, but not sure how good this one is? Though I am sure he works hard and gets things done at their own pace (likely a very fast one). is a fun tool, but it is not a real Myers-Briggs test and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt. The real tests asks the subject questions directly, this analyzes blog entries. That said, have fun with it!