While these times are turbulent, Dr. Richard Florida, a best-selling author and professor, thinks the market turmoil is a sign of bigger things.
"We're living through one of the greatest economic transformations of history," he said during his keynote address at the 2008 Developer Conference in Las Vegas earlier this week. "It is bigger than the shift from an agricultural society to the capitalist economy."
Instead of "moving capital around with the click of a mouse," Florida says the creative class, a term he received notoriety for with his book The Rise of the Creative Class, will become the new source of wealth. The ranks of this creative class, which includes entrepreneurs, entertainers, writers, artists, and knowledge workers, have grown by 20 million since 1980, Florida says. Now, they number about 40 million. "We're living through the emergence of a new economy," Florida says.
Florida doesn't think the creative class just magically appears though. It's cultivated through its environment. "Place has become more important then ever," Florida says.
Right now, Florida says 50 percent of people live in an urban center, and he contends that these dense urban centers and "mega regions" (the stretch that runs from Washington D.C. to Boston to New York, for instance) are the engine for the knowledge class. He says these regions contribute 65 percent of the world's output. "The world is being organized around mega regions," he says.
Why do these mega regions stimulate more creative workers? Florida says the education levels in these areas and their tolerance of other people and ideas fuels this growth. The creative class craves both culture and natural in its mega regions.
"The fusion of the natural environment is a big part of where you live," Florida says.