Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Creative Class

I am a huge fan of Richard Florida’s work, and especially like his blog, and he attracted a number of students to George Mason even though he was only here for a short time. But his concept of the creative class and especially his more narrowly defined creative core include many jobs that seem downright boring. Perhaps it's just because I have a stereotype of a hipster graphic designer with multiple piercings and tattoos working at odd hours while completely reshaping an industry. Here's how Florida describes the super creative core:
The super-creative core of this new class includes scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the “thought leadership” of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion-makers. Members of this super-creative core produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and broadly useful -- such as designing a product that can be widely made, sold, and used; coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many cases; or composing music that can be performed again and again.
While the creative core's contribution to GDP in unmistakable, to an outsider like myself many of the jobs appear repetitive. Since his first example is scientists, I think this bit from the Loom is relevant:
One of the most important experiments in evolution is going on right now in a laboratory in Michigan State University. A dozen flasks full of E. coli are sloshing around on a gently rocking table. The bacteria in those flasks has been evolving since 1988–for over 44,000 generations. And because they’ve been so carefully observed all that time, they’ve revealed some important lessons about how evolution works.
It's important work and perhaps very interesting to the researcher, but he's been running the same experiment since 1988! I can barely stay focused on the same topic for two blog posts, so congratulations to Dr. Lenski for his tenacity, and I'm glad to see he's finally seeing some meaningful results.

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