Social Studies

http://blog.grdodge.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/greenline5-R.Kennedy.jpgRemember when we thought the Internet would render place meaningless?  It was once thought that if you could work from home, from a ski lodge, or from the middle of nowhere, people would scatter to the four corners and do their own thing.

Given the simultaneous rise of the knowledge economy, we now know the opposite has happened.  Brains seek out other brains, and humans are inherently social.  Which means that far from spreading out and being wherever we want to be, people are choosing to be together.  We are seeing a proliferation of co-working space in Philadelphia, city office space is doing far better than suburban office space, and regions that have robust mechanisms for encouraging formal and informal interactions among their top researchers are finding the most success when it comes to generating patents and securing venture money.

In my own life, I have enjoyed catching up with past colleagues, potential clients, and former students both in pre-planned meet-ups over coffee or lunch, or in serendipitous encounters on the street or in the bus.  Think of how hard this would be to do in the suburbs: a simple morning meet-up for juice and bagels would entail contending with traffic and parking twice, and you certainly wouldn't want to literally crash into an old friend while on I-95.

Just this month, I have had or will have 18 one-on-one meet-ups, and none of them involved more than a five-minute walk from my house or my office.  And, I have attended one "Junto" style group meeting and have been invited to two others that will take place next month.  I am better for all of these human interactions, both because the people I spend time with make me happy and because the greater interconnectedness leads to new ideas for my brain and new business for my firm. Who could've predicted this?

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