Friday, January 27, 2012

Producing ideas

Jonah Lehrer writes about "Groupthink" in the recent New Yorker.  "Brainstorming" is overrated, but serendipidous connections are crucial.  To get the latter, allow for propitious proximity and hope for the best. 

The writer cites Jane Jacobs' "knowledge spillovers," which are a huge topic with urban economists and urban planners.  He also cites Steve Jobs' ideas for the best office floor plan for Pixar (one that makes encounters possible) as well as how spatial arrangements made a difference at MIT's Radiation Lab as well as its Linguistics Department.

In my previous post, I mentioned "supply chains of new ideas".  The reason to put it that way is that we expect concentration in space (cities) to facilitate conventional production as well as idea production.  The latter is a comparatively new idea, but all of these supply chains must have the chance to form -- and thrive and re-form as circumstances change.  That's a huge task and a huge puzzle.  We expect that flexible land markets are a necessary condition. 

Growth is the criterion and metropolitan areas that grow are the places where spatial arrangements that best facilitate large numbers of supply chains win.  There are no "smart growth" (or other) planning guidelines that come close to meeting this immense challenge.