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While technology may give us each the tools of creativity, it takes urban proximity and unpredictability to sharpen them.


The potential edge that urban dwellers enjoy over their country cousins can be linked to having more and different people to meet, and more meeting places—parks, coffee shops, parties, or simply the sidewalk “diversity” means not necessarily ethnicity, race, or religion, but a range of perspectives and skill sets that intersect to create what he calls “superadditivity”—problem-solving power that is more than the sum of its parts.


In order to get the intellectual benefits of diversity, you first have to actually talk to a wide variety of people.


Some industries depend much more on face-to-face knowledge than others. In quantitative analysis of economic data, for example, the relevant knowledge can be printed in a manual, meaning firms and skilled workers can be located anywhere, according to economists Michael Storper and Anthony Venables. But being on the scene is important when it comes to buzz industries—”culture, politics, arts, academia, new technologies, and advanced finance”—in other words, everything people discuss in a wine bar in Tribeca on a Saturday night.