6.26.2007

Agglomerations and Chance Encounters

It's a mouthful of a word but a beautiful one nonetheless:
agglomeration. In an economic sense, it refers to metro areas that
contain clusters of activities in distinct industries. The
entertainment industry in LA, the financial districts of New York, and
growing densities of knowledge workers in hot places like Austin and
Charlotte are but a few examples.

It's funny how the more mobile and tech-oriented our world has become,
the more important place has become. Far from rendering place
irrelevant, high technology has increased the value of being
physically proximate to other like-minded individuals.

And not just for formal and intentional gatherings, like meetings and
conferences. Being physically proximate also means informal and
serendipitous touches, like bumping into colleagues on the subway or
at a restaurant, or having a chance meeting in an elevator or on the
street.

And so it is in a city of almost 1.5 million and a metro area of
millions more, than I can feel a sense of connection simply by putting
myself out there and looking up instead of down when I'm motoring
around every day. Just this past week, a coffee with a friend at a
popular hangout led to an unplanned reunion with an old colleague, I
bumped into the next mayor of Philadelphia while crossing the street
in front of City Hall, and I got introduced to the sister of an
acquaintance of mine who happens to be in the same field as me.

And so it is that in agglomerations, chance encounters make a big city
a small world. Who knows how many more such encounters I could have
if I would just keep my eyes open?

Post a Comment