For Some The World Is Flat

Marketing guru Adam Hanft, founder and CEO of Hanft Unlimited queries Richard Florida in a Fast Company web exclusive.

Hanft: Does the importance of the Creative Class in driving innovation fly in face of the notion that technology makes geography insignificant? Are we becoming a world where free-agents work entrepreneurially, as “nowhereians” with a global soul, in Pico Iyer’s term — or a world where geography becomes even more important than it has been?
Florida: Both phenomena are at work, but in the end geography will remain as important as it’s ever been. I wrote an article on this very subject in the October issue of the Atlantic Monthly, taking on Tom Friedman’s assertions that “The World is Flat” and “you don’t have to emigrate to innovate.” In fact, the world is “spikier” than it’s ever been, with economic growth and especially cutting-edge science and innovation concentrating in major urbanized regions. Between these regions are the valleys of this Spiky World, struggling to keep pace in the global economy.
Now, obviously free-agents are free to hop from peak to peak in this world, but it’s a dangerous misconception that just because the world is “flat” for the privileged few (admittedly, an increasing number), it’s flat for everyone.

As a creative thought worker who is not located in an urban creative center, I’m apt to take Florida’s thinking with a grain of salt. For sure, our industry is organized in well established creative pockets, or ghettos, as the case may be. Yet, some of the best ideas (and work) consistently comes from “out of nowhere”. Search for “Agencies in Strange Places” in the AdPulp search bar to see what I mean.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.