Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Tag: richard florida

Creative Capital; The Hidden Hero

 

Social capital, intellectual capital and creative capital are the factors of production for the Innovation Economy; next economic paradigm.  Few people realize that Silicon Valley arose from a perfect storm of social capital from the 1960’s, the music and arts scene of the same era, and the proximity of academic centers Stanford and Berkeley.  The Bay area corporations may have been the beneficiaries, not necessarily the originators of innovation.

Creative Capital remains the least understood, yet most important element of the Next Economic Paradigm.  As we continue our march into the regime of social media it is imperative that we understand, support, and develop this critical factor.  We cannot “take it for granted” that creativity exists and will always exist.  It must be recognized, developed, and integrated into the fold of Social Media.

Here are some stats:

Wikipedia:

  • Social Capital has it’s own page with 6816 word article
  • Human Capital (Intellectual Capital) has it’s own page at 2597 words
  • Creative Capital does not have a page of it’s own on Wikipedia

Twitter:

  • I found 20 Tweets referencing “Social Capital” in the last HOUR
  • I found 20 Tweets references to “Intellectual Capital” in the last 6 HOURS
  • There were 20 Tweets that referenced the term “Creative Capital” in the last WEEK (mostly as a trade name)

Facebook Groups:

  • Social Capital Groups: 2000
  • Human Capital/Intellectual Capital Groups 1000
  • Creative Capital: 412

Linkedin Groups:

  • Social Capital: 69
  • Human Capital (intellectual Capital): 272
  • Creative Capital: 12

While the ratios vary, the trend is fairly clear.  Creativity is not often interpreted as a financial instrument otherwise it would be associated with the term “Capital”.  There are other factors as well that may play into this.  Artists are often self-actualized outside of the trappings of material possessions and therefore less visible as economic or political power brokers.   As a professional class, they may be under-represented in social media space.  In addition, creativity does not punch a clock and is likely not working for wages as such. Or they may be running around dressed up like Engineers :)

I’ve made the point that was intended so now I’ll leave the remaining analysis to a person who has done a great deal to advance the modern understanding of the field of study related to creative capital; Richard Florida – an unsung hero for whom Wikipedia does have a page:

Richard Florida (born 1957 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American urban studies theorist.

Professor Florida’s focus is on social and economic theory. He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. [1] He also heads a private consulting firm, the Creative Class Group.

He is best known for his work in developing his concept of the creative class, and its ramifications in urban regeneration. This research was expressed in Florida’s bestselling books The Rise of the Creative Class, Cities and the Creative Class, and The Flight of the Creative Class. A new book, focusing on the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration, titled Who’s Your City?, was recently published.

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Creative Capital in Austin (SXSW)

The SXSW Music and Media Conference showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over eighty stages in downtown Austin.  By day, conference registrants do business in the SXSW Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center and partake of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature.

We at TIP find this combination of music, indi films, and Geekdom to be extremely interesting.  According to the work of Richard Florida; Engineers and scientists think and act more like artists and musicians than like production workers.  This calls into question much of what we assume to be true in corporate America (specifically 9-5 work weeks, wages vs. royalties, and who manages whom).

The mashup of music, film, and social media/technology is the basis of the most under-recognized factor of production for an innovation economy; Creative Capital. All the academics and corporate outsourcers thought talk about Intellectual Capital.  All of the marketers and PR experts talk about Social Capital.  But the SWSX is reflecting something very different.

As such, there are some interesting Filters in play. The following observation by Janet Fouts points out the curious absence of known superstars on the panel list.  It’s not the all-star game that traditional media loves so much. I would also encourage the reader to look at some of the Hot List Ideas that Janet Links to below.  My mini-rant: For the parents among us, the addition or elimination of Arts from any curriculum should not be under estimated.  Thanks Janet:

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With all the talk about Twitter grades and the social media elite it’s sobering to look through the “hot” list form SXSW and see the proposals currently in the top of the voting. Sure, I looked for my proposals first and no, they weren’t on the hot list, but more importantly neither were many of the social media superstars I expected to be at the top of the list. After all, it is the interactive division of SXSW and that’s not all about social media folks.

There’s some pretty cool stuff in here for the web developer part of my brain too. A few people I recognize like Jason Wishnow from TED, Adam Pash from Lifehacker , Peter Shankman from HARO, and Skylar Woodward from Kiva, but there are a a lot of people I don’t know, and that’s pretty darn interesting. I spent an hour or two this morning finding some new information resources, and isn’t that really the point? Why not take a few minutes to browse the hot list to see what people are voting for and find next year’s superstars?

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It is crucial to watch how events evolve and to recognize how people organize themselves.  Austin is not NYC, Silicon Valley, LA or Chicago – they are largely disassociated with traditional media, financial, and political power centers.  The purity of this disassociation cannot be underestimated.

Janet is right – events such as SXSW may be the best way to predict the future –  and with surprising and uncluttered clarity.

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Got a Life?

Geographic Compatibility:

In the early 1990’s, traffic in Los Angeles was so horrendous, it could take hours to travel a dozen miles.  Commuting was a nightmare and the last thing anyone wanted to do was sit in more traffic.  As a single professional, every time I met a prospective lady friend, I had that elemental question in the back of my mind – and so did she: are we Geographically Compatible (GC)?

The sweet spot:

I recall many a magical conversation ending with that mutual inevitable shrug of the shoulders; a secret code for “have a nice life”.  In Los Angeles, GC peaked in the sweet spot of 1-6 miles.  After that, GC diminished roughly proportional to the square of distance with 20 miles as an absolute maximum.  Any more was no closer or farther than, say, Nashville.

The cost of ownership:

Today, not only must we contend with traffic and the cost of owning a car, we must attend to a warming planet were every gallon of gas burned spews 19 lbs of CO2 to the atmosphere.  In addition, we have a deepening deficit of the most valuable asset in our lives and the lives of those around us; time, bandwidth, productivity, sleep, money, innovation; it’s all the same convertible currency.  All are wasted equally behind the wheel of an automobile.

Social Experiment:

With this in mind, I did a little experiment.  I went to Linkedin and conducted a search for everyone within 6 miles of me.  All that they offered was a 10 mile range and with keyword search too.  The results were very interesting; not ideal but not too shabby.  I tried the same with Facebook, and the best I could do was search by zip code.  It was very awkward and the profile search feature only allowed me to query my existing contacts.  I am guessing that there is some sort of security issue that restricts this type of searching.  Too many nuts, flakes and stalks in that granola, I suppose.

Not unlike the LA dating scene, the future of innovation economics, global sustainability, quality of life, social support structure, family values, and money management will rely increasingly on GC; and the constraints will not end soon.  Social Media must understand the monetization potential of GC and develop robust applications to support it.

If that is not enough convincing, try this:

‘The Jane Jacobs externality’ named after a transformational sociologist of the same name, suggests that concentrations of educated and skilled people attract companies and investment to a geographical area.  The presence of such investment attracts more educated and skilled people to that area; also referred to as “intellectual capital”.

Harvard Professor and Author, Dr. Robert Putnam concluded that people acting in groups can produce far more economic growth faster and better than corporations and government combined. This is called “Social Capital”.

Carnegie Melon Professor and Author, Dr. Richard Florida, suggests that artists and engineers think more similarly 24/7/365, than managers and production workers.  This is called “Creative Capital”.

Factors of production:

All three; intellectual capital, social capital, and creative capital are wholly and utterly dependent on GC.  These are the factors of production of an Innovation Economy.

Evidence of these effects can be demonstrated by the civil rights movement, woman suffrage, neighborhood watch, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Greenwich Village, Austin Texas, Boston, Hollywood, Chicago, NYC, and many more locations where ‘wealth’ is located.  What came first, the money or the people?

So, what part of monetization is Social Media having difficult with?  The sweet spot is 1-6 miles, so get the hint and get it fast. Meanwhile, billions upon billions of magical conversations end with that inevitable shrug of the mouse; a secret code for “have a nice life”.  I say, get a life.

Factors of Production for an Innovation Economy

Many years ago, economists in the midst of the industrial revolution identified three variables (productive inputs) for building industries; Land, Labor, and Capital.  The rate of output was related to how these inputs were allocated. If any of these factors of production were missing, the other two had little use.  The concept of Land, Labor, and Capital is still the foundation of much of today’s economic thought.

We know that in the knowledge economy, the location of knowledge work is highly mobile – so “Land” does not have the same significance for making things as it did 100-200 years ago.

What about “Labor“? Knowledge workers analyze situations, manage many variables, and create unique solutions. They do not really produce identical knowledge pieces like a machine operator or a production worker –so Labor also means something different than a century ago.

The term “Capital” refers to money that would be needed now to build future structures, buy machines and to pay wages. Today money buys access to information, education, and knowledge workers. So we see that many old economic principle may not be as applicable in the new economies.

The factors of production for the Innovation Economy are Intellectual Capital (also call Human Capital), Social Capital, and Creative Capital + entrepreneurs. (Reference: Jane Jacobs, Robert Putnam, Richard Florida)

Intellectual Capital Model suggests that concentrations of educated and motivated people attract investors to employ them and invest in the communities where they reside. This investment attracts other intelligent people who in turn attract more investment thereby creating a cycle of economic growth

The Social Capital Model suggests that people acting in communities can create better solutions, greater accountability, and more economic growth than management, governments, or bureaucracy can induce on their own. Examples of Social Capital include Civil Rights Movement, community watch organizations, Democratic Government, and recently, Social Networking.

The Creative Capital Model, suggests that engineers and scientists think more like artists and musicians than like production workers – their ideas come 24/7/365 – and that an environment of tolerance, diversity, and openness promotes creative output.

Silicon Mouse trap

Many people argue that Silicon Valley, in fact, was created and sustained by a perfect storm of Social Capital, Creative Capital, an Intellectual Capital + Entrepreneurs.  Other countries have tried to duplicate Silicon Valley but most have fallen short – if any of these factors of production are missing, the other two have limited utility for production of innovation. To demonstrate how these productive inputs might appear in an innovation economy, consider the following example:

Suppose that we take 5 mechanical engineers and lock them in a room with instructions to build a better mouse trap, they’ll emerge with a better shingle, a better spring, a better whacker, and a better trigger – but not necessarily a better mousetrap.  Suppose that we now put a dog catcher, an engineer, a plastics manufacturer, an artist, and the mother of 4 rowdy children together with the same task. We can be quite certain that innovation will occur. They may actually come up with an excellent mouse trap.

The Innovation Economy

Innovation Economics will bring the factors of production together in diverse combination rather than similar combination.  In an Innovation Economy, the “secret sauce” for the production of innovation becomes far more valuable than any single innovation itself.  The secret sauce provides a monopoly on dynamic repeatability rather than a static device.

As such, technologies can be open sourced and innovation crowd sourced across a much wider domain of possible user applications.  Such conditions will change the type of innovations that are favored to reflect the broad and sweeping social priorities rather than innovations that are easy to patent, protect, and monopolize.

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