Richard Florida is famous for his works on the rise of the creative classes. Who is your city? is an exploration into how clusters develop wrapped up under the guise of a self-help book. The book was recommended by a friend to mine who has been studying architecture and urban design. Florida looks at the characteristics of different cities (predominantly in North America) and explores factors that attract people at different life stages. You can see similar patterns in China around the rise of Shenzhen as a new city in the space of a few decades, or the way London draws talent from across the rest of the UK across various creative services.
Flordia provides some of the starting points to the age-old regional planning question ‘How do we make another Silicon Valley in <insert region name here>?’ by listing some of the factors involved. There is an interplay between planning and organic effects. Korea is currently facing these challenges as it tried to have Sejong City meet its full potential
Unlike many books he hasn’t fallen into the classic bad science trap that correlation and causality are the same thing. For instance: whilst no two neighbouring countries with a McDonald’s restaurant may have gone to war, that doesn’t make Ronald McDonald a prime candidate for the next United Nations secretary general.
The book is interesting in the way that a Malcolm Gladwell book is interesting; I would prefer for Richard Florida to surface more of the modelling and research that went into Who is your city. The book is a serious academic piece of work that is devalued by reducing it to dinner party talking points. The section of questions at the back seem logical enough for someone thinking about relocating, there is no rocket science in them. At the end of it, I was left wondering how much utility did Who is your city? have for the average European or Asian reader? More book reviews here.