September 3, 2012

Infographics inspired by Richard Florida’s book “The Rise of the Creative Class”

I finally read The Rise of The Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life by urban studies theorist Richard Florida and published in 2002(1). Great read, and while reading, there were some passages which  inspired me to make infographics, set in a condensed font and red color, stemming from the book’s binding and jacket.

Infographic 1: Composition of the Creative Class
Richard Florida describes the Creative Class as consisting of two groups: “Super-Creative Core” and “Creative Professionals.” The former includes scientists and engineers, university professors(2), poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers and architects, et al. From Florida, “People at the core of the Creative Class fully engage in the creative process. … Along with problem-solving, their work may entail problem-finding: not just building a better mousetrap, but noticing first that a better mousetrap would be a handy thing to have.” The latter group “engage in creative problem-solving … apply or combine standard approaches in unique ways to fit the situation, exercise a great deal of judgment, perhaps try something new.” Here’s the initial sketch:

Then a digital iteration of Florida’s breakdown of the Creative Class:

Infographic 2: Attributes of the Creative Class
A chapter is dedicated to “The Creative Economy” where precursor societal waves, such as “Industrial Capitalism,” were highlighted. A particular wave which Florida honed on was “The Organization Age” (late 1800s–early 1900s): “Its defining element is the shift to a modern, highly-organized economy and society whose fundamental features and large-scale institutions, functional specialization and bureaucracy. This transition was premised on two basic principles: the breaking down of tasks into their most elemental components and the transformation of human productive activity into stable and predictable routines.” The “creative limits” of The Organizational Age helped pave the way for “new economic systems explicitly designed to foster and harness human creativity, and the emergence of a new social milieu that supports it.” One economic system, a theme throughout the book, is its evolving form as a city, with its evolving infrastructure and affordances. Here’s the initial sketch:

Then a digital iteration:

Infographic 3: Cultural offerings of the street
Another of the book’s themes is the sense of place. One of Florida’s chapters is “The Power of Place.” Cities, especially those at the size of XXXL, show off their large stadiums and malls. Florida emphasizes the smaller, more grounded and diverse, cultural destinations, which stimulate creativity. Here’s the initial sketch:

Then a digital iteration of what Florida calls “The Hegemony of the Street”:

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From the book’s conclusion, “We must carefully consider the ends to which we direct our creativity. It is a precious asset not to be squandered trivially, and a powerful force to be harnessed and directed with careful consideration of all its possible consequences. Which brings us back to the question posed at the very outset of this book: What do we really want? What kind of life—and what of society—do we want to bequeath to coming generations? … The task of building a truly creative society is not a game of solitaire. This game, we play as a team.”

(1) There is a 10th Anniversary Edition.

(2) According to Creativity specialist Sir Ken Robinson, “Not the high watermark of all human achievement. They’re just another form of life.” See his TED Talk Schools kill creativity.

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In his keynote address of South by Southwest 2012 in Austin, Texas, singer, songwriter, and performer Bruce Springsteen eloquently spoke about creativity: “I’d like to talk about the one thing that’s been consistent over the years—the genesis and power of creativity, the power of the songwriter, or let’s say composer, or just creator. So whether you’re making dance music, Americana, rap music, electronica, it’s all about how you’re putting what you do together. The elements you’re using don’t matter. Purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips, there is no right way, no pure way of doing it, there’s just doing it. We live in a post-authentic world, and today, authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you’re bringing when the lights go down. It’s your teachers, your influences, your personal history. At the end of the day, it’s the power and purpose of your music that still matters.”

• • •

Reviews of more recommended books: Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky of Behance, REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals Basecamp, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk.

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