Contrary to naysayers' and pessimists' early warnings, distance in the wired world is decidedly not dead. In fact, as has been pointed out a gazillion times already, the revitalization of many urban cores in the US and around the world has coincided with the miraculous rise of the internet and wireless technology. But why have people not retreated to mountaintops as was feared at the onset of the internet era? If you can have a creative and fulfilling career from anywhere, why not work from a rustic cabin overlooking a placid lake in a bucolic wood?
A recent post on coworking (a trend that I am particularly enamored with) at Coroflot's Creative Seeds Blog inadvertently highlights why the internet has pushed people closer together rather than pulling them apart. Coroflot's lays out the options for those who don't have a formal office -- temporary cubicle, cobbled-together home office, isolating coffee shop -- and then explains that none of these environments has "the most important quality of the ideal creative workspace: other creative workers with whom to interact. It's well understood that good ideas and good creative work flow almost never flourish in a vacuum, and yet increasingly we are asked to make them do so."
Cities are more diverse, active places. They are larger and thus, by default, contain more possible answers to any question of location. Thus, for someone who is free to work anywhere, cities provide the most enticing environment. By living in a city, a creative worker has the opportunity to change up their daily workspace. There is always the option of moving out to The Sticks, but when The Sticks compete on a level playing field with the urban core, guess which one usually wins out?
There's another fact that's been repeated a gazillion times over the past few months that may provide a hint: for the first time in the history of civilization, half of the world's population now lives where?
(Photo from Flickr user MathieuCoste. The original full-color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)
Your Dream Office is Just Over There: Co-Working and the Instant Creative Community (Coroflot's Creative Seeds Blog)