October 25, 2006

Human Progress

Stumbling and Mumbling here makes an interesting point to which I've responded on his post. But one issue he doesn't reflect upon is cluster theory- why is it that at particular points in time say in Florence in the 14th Century you get amazing amounts of creativity whereas at other periods of time you don't. One economic explanation has been to argue that bringing clusters of people together so that they can discuss things with others with similar interests means that people become more creative. There is some truth in this. However there have been attempts to create clusters which haven't worked which indicates that there are variables in this, like the morale of the workforce (something that important work is being done in Cambridge upon)- so the search is still on for what exactly it is that provokes creativity.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I imagine that these creative clusters tend to be organic entities and that any attempt to recreate them would inevitably fail. I expect that in this sort of cluster part of the reason that they work is the excitement of finding oneself surrounded by like-minded creative people without having be brought together artificially. The connections that people build - and thus the inspiration that they can get from each other - are surely stronger if they develop naturally. It's an interesting situation to try to recreate though.

Anonymous said...

People with experience of trying to manage regional development grants of one kind or another will tell you that clusters are the bane of their existence. It has become the conventional wisdom that the way to regenerate a town is to "encourage a cluster effect", but this is self-evident nonsense for several reasons.

Firstly, as the previous commenter points out, successful clusters, like ancient Athens, mediaeval Florence or 18th century Edinburgh, are organic. Who is going to decide what type of "cluster" they want in Crapville? Not the creative elite, unless there already happens to be a star department at Crapville University, but a bunch of council officers, whose are there because they're good administrators, not blue sky thinkers. So they inevitably get it wrong.

Secondly, they always decide to go for the latest hot topic they've seen on the telly, usually something high tech. This country simply isn't big enough to support high tech. clusters all over the place. Everybody and their dog would like a biotech cluster to revitalise their economy, but there already is one of those, it's in Cambridge, and there isn't room for another one.

But the power of the buzz word is great, and a lot of resources are going to be wasted until people get real about this.

Gracchi said...

Yes I'm not reccomending bringing in clusters by policy- and I agree that they are almost certainly organically grown. I'm not sure though that saying that something is organic means that we shouldn't study why it happens- that is what in my view is more interesting- once we've done that we can move to questioning whether you can or can't do anything governmental about it- I suspect like you the answer is no but I think its worth even then looking at how and why these things happen at various times in various places.

Angel Feathers Tickle Me said...

Love to all...

Anonymous said...

I wasn't suggesting that by being organic that they were not interesting to study - the contrary my dear Gracchi. I was just commenting that trying to replicate them could have problems due to the organic-ness of them perhaps being part of the reason they succeed.

Gracchi said...

Sorry mistook your meaning, Anonymous, I was a little crotchety maybe but you are right reproducing them could be difficult- I apologise though the problems with blogs is that you respond so quickly in the mood you are in and therefore can occasionally respond out of temper or misunderstand.