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Casual Collisions, Spontaneous Meetings & Serendipity

Posted on by Brandon Klein

“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”  Steve Jobs

Our mission at Boundlss is to help people be awesome, particularly in regards to meaningful productive activity. When you dig into some of the latest research into creativity, innovation clusters and gazelles you find that community and social denisty is more influential than the tools, technologies or techniques: it’s the spontaneous conversations, interaction and engagement of people with the many minds and hearts around them.

Richard Florida’s research on innovation hubs shows the importance of vibrant, dense, urban environments in fostering innovation and creativity. In his book the Rise of the Creative Class he presents compelling analysis on an often overlooked economic drive:

“Place is supplanting the industrial corporation as the key economic and social organizing unit of capitalism. Density, the clustering of creative people – in cities, regions, and neighborhoods – provides a key spur to innovation and competitiveness.”  Richard Florida

Florida calls this place, but it’s really more about how a location can support and encourage social density, a critical mass ofinteractions and connections between people to create a cocktail of creativity, intelligence and courage.  From the studios of Florence, to the coffee houses of Paris and the skunkworks at Google [x], vibrant environments in which people from wide and varied backgrounds have spontaneous meetings and explore interesting problems have been the engines of economic growth, innovative ideas and human wonder from the dawn of humanity.

“Despite all the predictions that technology—from the telephone and the automobile to the computer and the Internet—would lead to the death of cities, the creative economy is taking shape around them. Urban density, the clustering of people and firms, is a basic engine of economic life. Place is the factor that organically brings together the economic opportunity and talent, the jobs and the people required for creativity, innovation, and growth.”  Richard Florida