Enemies of the creative city

Being creative is a fragile affair. It requires seemingly contradictory conditions such as stimulation and calm. Great cities can provide opportunities for the breadth of human emotion. Vitality and vibrancy help creativity, but only up to a point. Too much can end up as noise and whirr and there is no chance for focus and reflection. Information overload is another problem for being a creative city; a fragmented clutter of out-of-context facts leads to confusion rather than clarity of thought and the hyper-mediated world does not help, with its usual blast of unconnected information where one rarely comprehends a story in its completeness. Compare the visual landscape of cities today with 30 years ago. Physical space, airwaves, sport, cultural events and performances: all are on the advertiser's easel. Ad-creep is everywhere. It is hard to think of any area of urban space which isn't in some way sponsored, branded or otherwise earmarked for corporate use. These are also some of the superficial ways in which society 'values' creativity - as style, as fashion, as edgy, as controversial for its own sake: attributes without substance. Speed is another problem. Being continuously fast works against reflection and things simply become a blur. The capacity to reflect is central to imagining and innovation.

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