Coming Anarchy 8, Geography

Note: This is a selection from Coming Anarchy, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Geography

“There is a lively sense of activity that draws talented individuals to the center of the culture, arrays them in cooperation but also in competition, and supports the most evidently talented (Gardner, 1997).”
In class, we talked about how creative people seem to flock to the institutions or areas where their skills are appreciated and can be improved upon. This is probably why there is such a great concentration of chess players in New York, and why certain universities seem to draw only the best faculty in a particular area together. It is this need for constant contact with mentors and others who can help improve your skills in the domain you are interested in (e.g. highly skilled opponents for chess players) that seems to drive this phenomenon. However, as we will show below, technology is rapidly changing people’s availability to be in constant contact with others in their domain, without necessarily being geographically located together.

Relevant Quotes From Interviews (Select):

Without being asked a direct question about how geography affected them, the following answers were given within the context of answering other, unrelated questions:
Chirol: “Though I’m from a medium-sized city, I’ve still found it hard to find good company… I rarely have anyone to turn to. Thus the Internet has become my primary means of doing so.”
Curzon: “The Internet makes this far easier in today’s world. I can login from Tokyo and blog about anything from security affairs in South Korea to Nigeria’s oil wealth and receive feedback from people all over the world who have similar interests.”
Younghusband: “I go to a military college. All my school mates are involved in politics and the military.”

Organizing The Information From The Quotes (Organize):

The ability to be around other creative people is very important, but technology is changing the definition and feeling of what “around” means. Only one of the subjects considers himself physically near to other experts in similar domains (Younghusband). However, all feel that they are extremely connected to others when they are working on the Internet.

Association With Our Course Readings (Associate):

“The great centers of learning and commerce have always acted as magnets for ambitious individuals who wanted to leave their mark on the culture (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”
“[Michael Pressley stated that:] When I went to Minnesota I spent a couple of years with John Flavell and then I spent time at Wisconsin with Joel Levin. My first job at Cal State Fullerton, I became good friends with Art Graser. Then I went to Western Ontario with Allan Pavio… (Kiewra, et al. Conversations with three highly productive educational psychologists).”

Nagging Questions (Regulate):

Two of the subjects said that earlier geographic deprivations led them to their field (i.e. the fact that they were deprived of a common language or access to other highly intelligent people led them to the Internet and blogging). Does this mean that being in a “creative” place early would make people more complacent, and thus less creative? Is this (meaning coming from isolated places) the flip side of a finding from Developing Talent in Young People, which found that talented youth moved towards creative places?


Coming Anarchy, a tdaxp series:
Coming Anarchy 1: Introduction
Coming Anarchy 2: Methods and Analysis
Coming Anarchy 3: Identity
Coming Anarchy 4: Failure
Coming Anarchy 5: Obsession
Coming Anarchy 6: Sacrifices
Coming Anarchy 7: Humility
Coming Anarchy 8: Geography
Coming Anarchy 9: Recognition
Coming Anarchy 10: The Gap
Coming Anarchy 11: Conclusion

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