The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life

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The national bestseller that defines a new economic class and shows how it is key to the future of our cities.

The Washington Monthly 2002 Annual Political Book Award Winner

The Rise of the Creative Class gives us a provocative new way to think about why we live as we do today-and where we might be headed. Weaving storytelling with masses of new and updated research, Richard Florida traces the fundamental theme that runs through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing role of creativity in our economy.

Just as William Whyte's 1956 classic The Organization Man showed how the organizational ethos of that age permeated every aspect of life, Florida describes a society in which the creative ethos is increasingly dominant. Millions of us are beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always have-with the result that our values and tastes, our personal relationships, our choices of where to live, and even our sense and use of time are changing. Leading the shift are the nearly 38 million Americans in many diverse fields who create for a living--the Creative Class.

The Rise of the Creative Class chronicles the ongoing sea of change in people's choices and attitudes, and shows not only what's happening but also how it stems from a fundamental economic change. The Creative Class now comprises more than thirty percent of the entire workforce. Their choices have already had a huge economic impact. In the future they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither.

Customer Reviews:

  • First-rate analysis
    This is an extremely interesting, thoroughly researched book that will generate considerable discussion. It is filled with statistics and thus can be slow going at times. Nonetheless, it is a huge contribution to popular understanding of early 21st century U.S. life. It will take its place alongside David Brooks's "Bobos in Paradise" and Daniel Pink's "Free Agent Nation" as classic accounts of the age in which we live....more info
  • If you buy into the premise you may need to think again
    Creativity, innovation, and the future are all three topics that generate tremendous interest and angst. Florida's book is a good look at the issue of creativity, economic growth and personal advancement. The arguement that creative people will increasingly garner a greater share of the economic pie in a world of commoditization is appealing. And that is its problem.

    Individually, each of us believes that we are bright, whitty, interesting and very creative. Each believes that we should garner part of the value and live the life of the creative class.

    Unforutnatley few of us are that interesting or really that creative. And here Florida's book appeals to the Narcissist in all of us. The book adopts a real elitest tone separating between the creative and the mindless prouls. If you follow his conclusions you find a world competing for attention -- like reality shows on TV. Wait, maybe Florida is right and I am just not creative enough to see it.

    This is a good book to understand the trends shaping the economy and our personal life ...more info
  • Extremely interesting
    This book is a facinating look at what really makes cities tick. As someone who grew up around boston and now lives in NYC the issues about city planning that Florida (the author) talks about are extremely relevant. I wish all city planners would read this before they go knocking down old neighborhoods or insisting on funding stadiums over education. His findings about diversity and creativity also should add to the many arguments against the current trend of discrimination that seems to have re-emerged....more info
  • Transforming a city, one artist at a time
    Richard Florida has effectively linked the concepts of a lively arts community and economic development. He shows with a great deal of statistics, that those cities with the greatest percentage of artists also have the greatest rates of economic growth. He attributes this to the creative class looking for a community in which they find an active arts community, a lively street environment, diversity and tolerance. These above average earners then move to those community that offers these assets and the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities. Only then do they look for a job.
    This book is not a blueprint for the redevelopment of a city but it is a good guidepost to determine the direction. ...more info
  • The rise of the over indulged techno class
    This book states (and restates and restates) that there is this creative class that is making money and transforming cities into vibrant economies if they are given the freedoms they need to stay creative. Sadly while he in name only includes artists, writers and musicians he seems only concerned with creative technology folks. Sure they are making money but artists continue to do what they do and have always had liveable communities. Economically viable? Well they don't have a starbucks on every corner and they can't afford hip nightlife and funky grocery stores but people have been making art weather or not cities chose to cater to them. The overpaid techies who have the privlege of comanding huge salaries and little personal responsiblity for their wealth need more put on a silver platter for them. Artists and creative types have rarely looked to others for their sustainablity. This is a book that is so shallow in its approach to creativity an a truly authentic and sustainable city economy that it left me annoyed. And the passing references to this Creative Class being very diverse but not black made me sit up. Some of the most gifted (and popular) artists, musicians, writers and directors are black, surely they make up some of this group. But not in Austin, not in Texas where being black is dangerous. Mr. Florida has created a neat package, trendy catch phrase and tidy profit, but he has not tapped or understood true creativity....more info
  • Fascinating
    I never read anything but fiction as a rule, but I couldn't put this down. This was my history, my family, my city, all the changes I've seen in them over the last 50 years, explained and redefined. I consider it a great tool for employers and city planners and for creative people it creates a great sense of connection....more info
  • Leaves us hanging
    This book presents an interesting concept but the author doesn't tell us what to do with this information. He suggests that the "creative class" must become conscious of their identity as a class and begin to act in concert, but he doesn't outline a method for doing this. One would think that he would want to provide a platform for the unification and interaction of a class which he has identified.

    The author suggests that municipalities would be wise to structure their geography to attract creative class individuals. Another approach, which he does not consider, would be a strategy to develop more creative class individuals from the resident population. Unlike other natural resources, which are finite, creative class capital can be generated by educational opportunities and personal development.

    An interesting thought occurred to me while reading this book: Dr. Florida describes creative class individuals as uninterested in group conformity. Meanwhile, the major political parties become increasingly polarized and intolerant of dissent within the ranks, sidelining independent-thinking "moderates." Thus public policy is being developed by parties who have driven the creative class out from their midst. This, more than anything, may be the most critical issue for the creative class to confront....more info

  • Great, with some minor reservations
    I like the basic premise. Really, I do. I just wish Mr. Florida was a little more dispassionate about Pittsburgh, his adopted home. Hey pal, if your thesis is true for Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and a bunch of other has-been older industrial towns, it's true for P'burgh too.

    That said, there's a lot to his ideas about identifying, quantifying, and ultimately valuing creative capital. Smart people doing creative things are worth more....more info

  • The Rise of the Creative Class
    Reads like a professor's text. A very interesting concept (I heard the author speak on a TV show which is why I bought the book) but the book is loaded with statistics and how he came up with his hypothesis and is a drag to read. My book club read it on my advice and very few bothered to finish it. I made myself finish it and even though I bought the second book, it lays on my self unread....more info
  • The Economics of Creativity: Common-sense, yet novel
    Upon a cursory glance, Richard Florida's theories regarding the factors that empower truly dynamic, prosperous cities resonate as highly embellished common sense: open-minded, diverse cities (i.e., New York, Chicago) have always and will always outperform more close-minded, culturally heterogeneous places such as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. But look deeper, and what you discover is a truly unique view - and in my opinion, a correct analysis - of a fundamental shift in the orientation of our society's workforce and economic structure, transcending even the oft-accepted "intellectual capital" approach to urban success.

    Essentially, Florida argues that an active fostering of the "3 T's" - technology, talent, tolerance - will be key to cities/urban areas wishing to thrive in the next century; and that a new class of knowledge professionals has emerged, coalescing around work that requires some degree of "creative" thought. This new creative class includes two components: a "super-creative core" consisting of scientists, artists, and engineers, along with more tertiary professionals such as accountants, lawyers, IT professionals, and financial analysts. The creative class, it is quantitatively demonstrated, has led the nation in job creation and income growth, and with the rise of global economic integration (i.e., globalization) and competition from low-wage countries for basic service-level jobs, the creative class will continue to ascend into a role of economic primacy. The cities that thrive in the next century will be the "creative centers"; places like San Francisco, Atlanta, and Denver that actively nurture the 3 T's. These will be the cities that combine a strong technology-empowered economy with highly-educated citizens and a tolerance for immigrants and alternative lifestyles, best exemplified by the presence of "bohemians" (i.e., artists and other "quirky" intellectual types) and gays. The emphasis on the latter two groups has brought Florida's work under attack from many social conservatives, but facts remain facts: as Florida clearly demonstrates, cities that are tolerant of all forms of diversity have fared better and will almost certainly continue to fare better than those who uphold exclusionary, bigoted social agendas.

    Of course, this is a gross oversimplification of Dr. Florida's theories. Much attention is focused on the social and economic developments that preceded the emergence of this new social model; methods for rating the creativity of cities (an overall "creative index", along with his controversial gay and bohemian indexes); and a discussion of how some cities have succeeded in becoming creative centers, while others have failed.

    Whether for urban theorists/students of urban theory, leaders in municipal governments, or social scholars, Dr. Florida's work in The Rise of the Creative Class sheds great insight into one of the most important emerging trends in the early 21st Century....more info
  • Solid Explanation of Changes in Our Society
    The Rise of the Creative Class is a solid explanation of many of the changes going on in our society. In defining the concept of the Creative Class, Richard Florida provides an effective way to discuss the behaviors and trends of middle-class Americans.

    The central idea of the book is presented in Chapter 9, "The Big Morph (A Rant)." In this chapter, Florida proposes that neither a traditional "Protestant" work ethic nor a Bohemian artistic ethic is an appropriate model for understanding the lifestyles of modern professionals. By understanding the Creative Class on its own terms (instead of according to past models of success), business and government leaders can make better decisions about how to build strong organizations and communities.

    The rest of the book provides extensive research leading to and supporting these conclusions, show that the ideas Florida presents are not only reasonable, but also grounded in fact....more info

  • Nice idea but ivory tower view
    This book is basically a bloated, out of touch, academic thesis with a good premise all of us alienated corporate blocked creative types would love to believe. If you look closely at Florida's prose, anyone who has a random penchant for a "new thought" is consolidated into this new creative class which seems to me to include too many security conscious treacly liberals who think building an opera house in the overly controlled town square is an expression of social consciousness and creativity. There is no distinction regarding sustainable, honestly intelligent creative ideas and middlebrow attempts to jump on the creative bandwagon. This book seems to be attempting to mainstream creativity in the broadest spectrum possible to grate a theme. Also, he needs to do more research: his paragraph on the demographics of brooklyn/nyc neighborhoods is a decade out of date. He stated young people gravitate to Park Slope, Williamsburg, East Village, etc. and once they get more upwardly mobile, move to the Upper West Side to raise their young. Park Slope is a mecca (since '95) for families and upper incomes. Park Slope has gotten quite suburban and it is expensive to live here. It is not, any longer, a place where you see green hair and just out of college displays of bohemian angst. I think Mr. Florida's book makes for an intersting discussion, but I feel he is writing it from an ivory tower and hasn't done his investigative street journalism work. The charts are ridiculous, and I have lived in at least a few of the cities he's mentioned, and his descriptions seem coerced to fit his thesis to me....more info
  • Nobrow
    Reluctantly I must concur: this is a promising but ultimately disappointing study. I'm better versed in socio-cultural matters than the statistical-materialist approach taken by Florida to community and leisure studies. So let me just onfine myself to remarking that I wish he did not rely at all on John Seabrook's NOBROW (2000). The latter is an intellectually and analytically challenged New Yorker essay that parades as a book. Peter Swirski's FROM LOWBROW TO NOBROW is where Florida should have reached for conceptual support of his theses as regards the rise of what he terms "creative class" but what really amounts to a cross-sectin between sociological upper middle class and cultural nobrow consumers. Still, THE RISE OF CREATIVE CLASS is a bold attempt to chart the emergence of a novel socio-cultural formation and as such is worthy of attention (yes, it could do with better editing and mroe user-friendly presentation)....more info
  • Thought Provoking and and an Important Addition
    I work with an organization that is in the process of revitalizing an small city in upstate New York. Florida gives us food for thought about how the young, professional...creative class thinks differently than the generations that preceeded them. This book is not an end-all (what book is?)it adds some important thoughts to the conversation. The lifestyle expectations of this group are higher. I lived in LA for most of last year and I obsevered a pattern of creative class individuals leaving for Boulder, Austin, and the like in order to have a better most cases at equal or less income.
    His thesis that a growing creative class population is a factor in economic and lifestyle growth is valid. As manufacturing jobs continue to decline in the US we need to look towards the well-paid occupations that will grow. I recently read Peter Drucker's "Management Challenges for the 21st Century" and he refers to this group as "knowledge workers" and he believes that they are the most important group of workers our economy.
    The bottom line for me is: The creative class people like a lot of the same things that other groups do but it's more important to them. Considering this group is an important element in urban development. ...more info
  • Very interesting--surprisingly informative and worthwhile.
    I think many of the preceding reviews provide insight on this book: the argument is a tough-sell, it relies on generalizations, and it doesn't get everything right. However, I don't this book is meant to be a final statement, but rather the beginning. Taken in that light, Florida's work has great importance for cities and governments as we try to lay the foundations for sustained prosperity and happiness in the USA.

    At a time when stadium boondoggles are soaking taxpayers around the country, Florida's book is urgently relevant. The argument may need some work, but hey: entrepreneurs of all kinds tend to thrive in a diverse, artsy, weird, non-conformist environment. Corporate welfare is not the answer (see Detroit), bike lanes and grunge music is (see Portland, OR).

    Wealth and happiness is ultimately created by people, not by giant corporations. Devising a great place to live, where people have great parks, schools, arts, and freedoms is the best path to the well being of economies and citizens alike....more info

  • Convoluted nonsense
    Patricia Drey in the MN Daily quotes this author as saying that "lawyers" and "doctors" are part of the "creative class". Surely these people jest.

    These folks would do better to pick up a copy of Peter Drucker's Innovation and Entrepreneurship and read the "sandwich shop" example found within the first 10 pages.

    If the writer can't get the basic definitions correct, (the assumptions) how are we to trust his conclusions?

    Don't waste your time....more info
  • Good summary of recent social trends
    In this self-conscious new take on the mid twentieth century classic "The Organization Man", the author begins with the question of why some cities attract talented people while others lose them. In order to answer this, he goes on to explain how work, leisure, and life itself are being reorganized, none of which is really news, but he provides a good summary of what others have presented in bits and pieces.

    Among the interesting points I found was a debunking of the free agent myth (made popular in another popular, recent book), stating that for creative workers it is mucho more important to be in an environment that fosters creative work rather than independence for its own sake. It also provides a good illustration of how economic clusters (discussed in Harvard Business Review and other business publications) work, where in a self-reinforcing loop businesses come to where the talent is, which attracts even more talented people to where the jobs are, which further enhances the quality of the place, etc. The author makes it very clear that the concept of place will become even more important in the age of the WWW, not less. Finally, I found his self-described rant on how Silicon Valley linked the 1960s hippie revolution and the 1990s workplace revolution very illustrating and exciting to read.

    You should note that this book is the result of years of sociological research, and as such, it is much more descriptive than prescriptive. By stating that the creation of good jobs depends on good firms coming, which depend on the availability of good workers, which in turn are lured by such intangibles as a tolerant atmosphere and the presence of good research universities, it doesn't offer much hope to stagnant cities that don't have any of these. Perhaps the only places that are positioned to benefit the most from Florida's advice are small towns with well-established colleges and research universities. It also doesn't say much about the role of education in extending and enhancing the much-desired creative class. It is strictly oriented to cities, not to regions, states or countries, so perhaps a good subtitle to this book would be "The Wealth of Cities". In spite of this limitation, it is well worth to read....more info

  • proposed solutions to improving the upper middle class
    Mr. Florida's book, which I saw discussed on C-SPAN2's "Book TV," is different from its contemporary relatives (e.g. Brooks's "Bobos in Paradise," Epstein's "Snobbery," and Queenan's "Balsamic Dreams") because it is grounded firmly in empirical research. Florida's primary aim is not commentary, social criticism (scathing or otherwise), or complaint, but factual study and problem-solving.

    The preponderance of data charts and tables in this book may give the appearance of academic cluelessness, which is one of its least attractive qualities considering the 'real world' business audience for which it is targeted. However, the reader cannot neglect the evidence behind Florida's findings that creativity, tolerance, and enterprise are inextricably linked. In addition, some cities' residents have taken issue with the book's various indices (rankings, a la "U.S. News & World Report") of Bohemianism and entrepreneurial activity, though there really is no need to feel slighted by one's place on such lists (especially when the criteria of measurement were chosen appropriately).

    Despite these less popular aspects of the book, Florida's contribution still emerges a winner because he is so forward-looking in his characterization of the 38 million-strong "creative class," whereas other authors are still busy taking potshots at its collective idiosyncrasies. I believe that the business world, especially human resources departments, can benefit immensely from this book, and that the working conditions for our middle class can greatly improve by drawing on Mr. Florida's inclusiveness-minded recommendations. CEOs and their kin, still worrying about "who moved their cheese," ought to check this volume out instead....more info

  • This book resonates
    Much of this book is spent on demonstrating how Mr. Florida's ''creative economy'' is reshaping society, not as is commonly believed the other way around. It's a bit of a kick-in-the-pants for the holier-than-thou family values crusaders who chastise gays and others who don't fit into their perfect world. It goes on to provide a strong argument that diversity is the breeding ground of creativity and therefore the bedrock of our economy.
    Mr. Florida presents plenty of research, antidotes, personal experiences and astute observations throughout the book, and he oftentimes had me looking up, gazing at nothing in particular while pondering how the new information I was taking had indeed already taken root in my own life. It was almost an interactive experience.
    This book won't change your life but it will help you understand why and how life itself is changing....more info
  • Amazing - a great reference towards America's future
    If you want to understand why America's economy is strong, and what the future holds for us, then this is the book for you!!!

    Dr Richard Florida outlines how the 3 T's (technology, tolerance, talent) all lead to super charged economic landscapes

    What I appreciate most though is that Richard Florida is able to discuss how tolerance, diversity, and open immigration all effect our economy in highly positive ways, not just through the arena of a discussion, but with actual economic figures and scales

    Lastly, his discussion over why we should have tolerance for Gays, based upon positive economic figures, is an amazing point, that few would have thought of

    What more can I say? This book effectively addresses social changes and the economic landscape of America, without even taking political sides

    Bravo Dr Florida!!!!!!!...more info
  • Writing about diversity, esp. controversial topics, sells!

    1. His definition of creative class includes Doctors, Financial Planners who have been rated in a recent FastCompany article as the least creative -- just ask your primary physician or accountant

    2. He likes to believe that this Flight of the Creative Class because of our foreign policy etc. is the biggest challenge US has ever faced -- even bigger than Outsourcing. I agree that it is a problem but much smaller. If we look clearly, taking away the job of an average white collar american is much more devastating than not inviting one immigrant into the USA -- immigrants are big part of Mr Florida's creative class.

    3. Finally, Mr. Florida's claims are riddled with problems around casaulity ... Bohemian and gay indicies.

    I didn't read his book but attended a two hour speaking engagement -- which actually is usually better for me to absorb information comprehensively....more info
  • Phenomenal!
    Phenomenal! I heard a lot of talk about this book and thought it was all about arts and culture. After 10 pages I realized it had nothing to do with arts and culture and everything to do with fundamental shifts in our society and economy and how it is impacting our communities. Very insightful and thoughtful....more info
  • Great insight for city planning
    Very well researched subject that counters many of the traditional myths about poplation growth and opportunities for development. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in promoting vibrant, growing communities....more info
  • Insightful
    A provocative and fascinating study, "The Rise of the Creative Class" is a dense book about the growing role of creativity in American economy. Florida describes what he terms this new Creative Class, as well as from where it emerged. This Creative Class celebrates diversity and embraces it, and gay communities are the metaphorical canaries in the coal mine because a thriving gay community is an indication of how welcoming a city is to diversity (whether sexual, racial, or national). Equal parts storytelling and academic research study, this book generates much thought and discussion, and challenges readers to create a better world....more info
  • Imaginary History
    Richard Florida's thesis -- rising creativity as elixer of prosperity -- is astonishingly uninformed about American history. His attempt to reduce creativity to occupational counts from the census is misleading in the extreme. Consider, for instance, the inginuity in people like Eli Whitney, John Ireland Howe, or John D. Rockefeller None of the three would have fallen within a "creative" occupation on Florida's telling. Yet each of the three illustrates the kind of creativity which creates wealth for society....more info
  • Book Hound
    Author Florida may have set a record for the number of times a nonfiction writer can repeat the same handful of thoughts and still get published. To the prospective reader with an interest in the purported subject, my suggestion is to read any 5 randomly chosen pages of Florida's work, and move on to the next item on your reading list, being assured that most of the material of the remaining 399 pages was, if not exhaustively covered, at least mentioned.

    In defense of his thesis, Florida gamely gives "nano-presentations" of the thoughts of his critics and generally dismisses them with a wave of the hand.

    Rather than repeat the points others have made on the deficiencies of this work, it seems just to redirect the rebuke Mr. Florida makes of one of the scholars with whom he disagrees. Florida's conclusions seem to simply follow the author's predilections (i.e. It seems he designs his analysis, knowing beforehand the conclusion he is going to justify - a cardinal sin according to any elementary standard of logic or academia.) and the issue of causality is never addressed with regard to the correlations so trumpeted throughout the text....more info
  • More of Us?
    Sure, this one's full of useful information, the statistical run-downs that support the author's points are impeccable and Richard Florida's wit is often nuanced and gray. But has Florida ever visited an advertising firm in which some of the most creative individuals on the planet are, figuratively speaking, lined up like hydrophonic tomatoes, sucked dry of their creative juices and then turned loose in the bar downstairs? That's not exactly what many would call a Renaissance, buddy.

    All said, however, only the most naive could fail to see that, like Thomas Frank's caustic and disbelieving "The Conquest of Cool" or David Brooks'seminal and sarcastic "Bobos in Paradise," "The Rise of the Creative Class" is simply another attempt by the commercialized segment of the general population to somehow connect itself to an increasingly unified, cohesive and suspicious counterculture. After reading it, in fact, you'll be tempted to make your own bumper sticker: TECHNO NIHILIST ON BOARD or BEHAVE or WORKING CLASS DICTATOR.

    In other words, those of us who have to create to keep from going insane find it difficult to trust an expanded definition of creativity that, basically speaking, warns the professional segment of the American workforce that they had better start working by extraneous means to open their minds to what, for better or worse, is defined as "the flow"--or fail miserably. Faux creativity depends on means outside the creative act to stay alive....more info

  • Hopeful rise needs a libertarian push
    "If America continues to make it harder for some of the world's most talented students and workers to come here, they'll go to other countries eager to tap into their creative capabilities--as will American citizens fed up with what they view as an increasingly repressive environment."
    -- Dr. Richard Florida, The Flight of the Creative Class

    From this quote from his second Creatve book you can see immediately the sort of society Dr. Florida wants. Me, too. What's puzzling is he doesn't explicitly attach his shiny new cart of creativity to the thoroughbred of peace and political liberty.

    In particular, you'd expect him to lambaste the Neocon Usurpers for launching expensive wars for isolated benefit of the Carlyle Group. Is he pulling his punches so Rush Bimbaugh won't accuse him of Bush-bashing? In general, why doesn't Florida boldly oppose the bonecrushing machinery of government per se?

    That's my 900-pound-gorilla reservation about The Creative books. Otherwise, they provide a nice boost to the kinds of people we want to cultivate in society... or even want to be.

    It appears many in public office, more semi-comatose Democrats than fully rabid Republicans, are interested in developing and retaining creative communities.

    But are they willing to do what it takes?

    The more political power they wield the less willing they are.

    Rise shows that what Dr. Florida calls the three Ts of creative-class communities--Talent, Technology, and Tolerance--occur rarely. And when they do, it's more from the tolerance angle.

    Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Burlington (VT), Boston, the highest American cities on the creative-class list, achieve their vaunted status by spontaneous order. When governments catch up to what's going on and want to push people around, it's too late.

    Tolerance is also another word for freedom. We can easily argue that liberty is fundamentally what the creative havenots have not. Talent and technology gravitate toward communities naturally when political leaders see their mission as preserving a natural order based on civil liberties.

    They accomplish that mission mainly by removing government obstacles and keeping the infrastructure efficient.

    Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. -- Thoreau

    Libertarians need no writer from the halls of the Carnegie Mellon Institute to tell us this dear Hamlet. But it's nice that in Rise Dr. Florida makes such a good statistical case for what creativity is, where it lives, and how we can nurture it. He also makes us aware that we, too, are paid-up members of the CC.


    For my complete review of this book and for other book and movie
    reviews, please visit my site [...]

    Brian Wright
    Copyright 2007

    ...more info
  • Interesting Study of the Creative Class
    I originally picked up Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class thinking it would be a good business read - particularly with the subtitle, How it's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. While the book proved to be more academic than I'd planned (re: multiple charts and graphs of population statistics and research findings), Florida did peak my interest with his theories on the Creative Class and how it has affected the economy, society and class structures.

    Florida's tome was inspired by his work in urban planning...specifically, in trying to understand why once-successful cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit struggle to regain their past glories despite numerous attempts at improvement. The answer lies in the rise of the Creative Class, which values investments in R&D, the arts, and education rather than sports stadiums and strip malls.

    Florida asserts that creativity has emerged as the single most important source of economic growth. The Creative Class behind this growth values individuality, meritocracy and diversity; creative communities take root and thrive when 3 things are present: technology, talent and tolerance. That is why communities like Cambridge, MA, and Silicon Valley have experienced boom times in recent years. Florida recounts social constructs throughout the years, like the bourgeoisie of the 50s that favored hard work, the bohemians of the 60s and 70s which favored play, and today's Creatives who recognize that life is an elusive mix of work and play. Creativity can not be turned on and off, and is not limited to the hours between 9 and 5. Thus we've seen more relaxed work environments and flexible working hours.

    He quotes Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel: "Today, people are increasingly concerned with what life is all about. That was not true for the ordinary individual in 1885 when nearly the whole day was devoted to earning the food, clothing, and shelter needed to sustain life." (p. 82) Homo Creativus is more tolerant and more liberal because material conditions allow it and social conditions demand it. Today, the content of the job and nature of work environment matter more than compensation; money alone does not motivate - it's important, but so is:

    challenge and responsibility
    stable work environment
    professional development
    stimulating colleagues and managers

    People don't stay tied to companies anymore. Instead of moving up through the ranks of one organization, they move laterally from one organization to another in search of what they want (or as Florida writes, "The playing field is horizaontal and people are always on the roll." (P. 104) Much of this can be attributed to the layoffs in the '90s which broke the social contract between employers and employees: it is no longer enough that you do a good job to stay employed. In fact, at the time of the book's publication in 2002, Americans changed jobs every 3.5 years - and that figure was trending downward.

    Overall, The Rise of the Creative Class was a really interesting - if long - read; it documents a lot of principles to which my generation can relate.
    ...more info
  • An Economic Developer's Perspective
    I can relate to many of the ideas expressed in Rich Florida's book, The Rise of the Creative Class. The book challenges us to think; that in itself makes it worthwhile.

    Overall, I agree that creativity looms large as an influence on our economy. The marketplace has nearly an insatiable appetite for new, more creative and different goods and services. The ability of people and organizations to adapt to their changing world requires both to become more creative. Most industries and businesses are in hot pursuit of creativity to gain a competitive edge. It is also true that communities are working harder at cultivating and using their creative talents and resources to gain a competitive edge for economic development opportunities.

    It is easy to get hung-up on particular components of Florida's framework, such as the gay variable. My research tells me that "sexual orientation/identity" is a powerful descriptor of social, cultural and economic life. Research shows us that "men" and "women" often see many issues differently in life.

    I see the necessity for all of us to look at the "whole" as well as the "parts" in looking at Florida's book. The "whole" is that creativity and social and cultural dynamics are major influences on the behavior and structure of economic systems, including local economies. Several earlier researchers also point out that creativity is very much a social phenomenon; that is individuals are can only be judged to be "creative" within a social and cultural context. Outside this context, we would be hard pressed to discern a "crazy" idea from a truly "creative" one. Read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's wonderful book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, which challenges earlier notions that creativity is solely (or primarily) a function of individual personality.

    We are literally at the starting blocks in understanding the complex relationship that economic development has with larger society, and how creative people will shape that future relationship. Available research, at best, depicts "correlation" and not "causation" in understanding how economic development processes (including creativity) relate to society's economic progress. Florida is trying to help us understand the correlations and hypotheses that he sees between our "social and cultural world" and our "economic and business world." Social scientists, including economists, have said for years that economic life is inseparable from social and cultural life. I think Florida is trying to remind us of this basic tie and help us think more precisely about these fundamental relationships.

    Political values, philosophies and policies, which reflect and represent the social and cultural interests of a community, have an indelible influence on the economic development agenda of cities, regions and states. This is true everywhere. The Creative Class reminds us of how social and cultural interests use the political process to influence wealth formation and distribution in society. That too is a lesson one could take from the book.

    As one who as been immersed in understanding the role of values and beliefs in shaping work, business and economic life, I can say that there is a need for research on these complex and vitally important issues. I believe that we need to expand our "consciousness" about these matters, including how our spiritual beliefs shape our thinking about economic development, people, organizations and society.

    We should always exercise caution in the "names" that we use to describe the world that we see through our values and beliefs. Assigning names is no simple matter. It is a basic strategy that is used by everyone to find and assign meaning in our daily lives. In this sense, what's in a name? Everything. Does such a thing as the "creative class" really exist? Is creativity really a "class" issue? I would guess that a large number of researchers focused on understanding creativity would argue that creative people exist in a wide variety of cultures and social classes, and that no single sociological class has a lock on creativity. Does the desire to be creative give rise to class formation? These are important questions that we should be asking as we explore the underlying issues in Rich Florida's work.

    Does the Creative Class provide a 100% bulletproof template that you can go home and apply to your community? No, probably not. Does it move us along the understanding curve, enable us to ask better questions and remind us of the close ties between social and cultural dynamics and the economy we have? Yes, I believe that it does.

    In closing, I am reminded of an earlier book, Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, edited by Lawrence Harrison and Samuel Huntington. This important book says that economic development never really exists outside culture; no matter how hard we try to pretend to the contrary. This suggests that many of Florida's observations may be pointing us in the right direction....more info

  • A good question, but no answer
    In focusing on creativity and innovation as the font of economic growth and diversification, Florida is right on. But his recommendations for recruiting creative people are the same old smokestack-chasing strategies that have caused so much conflict and disappointment.

    If Florida's question makes sense to you, read Ernesto Sirolli's Ripples from the Zambezi for a great answer on how you can foster and nurture the creativity that already exists in your community, and help people turn their ideas into viable businesses....more info

  • Fad book for the masses
    If you've written a positive review here, you're probably one of the 38 million (how elite, basically 1/7 of the adult population) Americans who is a member of Richard Florida's Creative Class. Pat yourself on the back. You have new ideas. And you probably live in one of the creative cities - NYC, Austin, San Francisco... Fun for you. Now if government politicians would just pay attention to you - as if they don't already! - things would be even better!

    But this is all bunk. Richard Florida hasn't written a path-breaking new book. He's repacked some ideas in some cute catch phrases and smartly marketed that book to... the 38 million people who like to think they're hip, creative, and cosmpolitan.

    Actually, though, many of the cities that make it into his top 10 are, in fact, losers when it comes to domestic migration trends. San Francisco and New York, for instance, have been losing people to other, lower-cost destinations. (These cities only avoid being net losers because of immigration of lower-skilled, lower-paid workers from abroad.)...more info

  • New Way of Life
    According to Richard Florida's "The Rise of the Creative Class", 38 million Americans belong to his newly identified group. Who are the Creative Class members and what motivates them? How and where will they live and work? Members of this mobile group want freedom, diversity, and tolerance in their neighborhoods and workplaces. At the simplest level, they crave authenticity. We, because I too am a member and agree with Florida's principles, do not want chain restaurants or cookie-cutter retail outlets. We want culture, experiences, and various lifestyle amenities. Vibrant neighborhoods that include galleries, coffee shops, and theaters are more important than professional sports teams. There is no need for separate work and social personas and the work/leisure time continuum essentially does not exist. There is a blending of work and life because creativity isn't scheduled and our workplaces offer freedom regarding time and place. Creative types will often rank job location and responsibilities over salary when it comes to choosing work and given the decrease in company loyalty over the years, many now form identities based on where they live rather than where they work. For those who want to create or save their companies or cities and recruit and retain talent (one of Florida's three T's of success, the others being technology and tolerance), this book is an essential read....more info
    This guy is boring. Yes, he has some terrific ideas, but he apparently has never heard of editing. We, the general public, do not need to know his every slightest thought and nuance. This is 400+ pages of appendices, notes, tables upon tables. I really DID want to know what the author has to say. But, as another reviewer suggested, read about every fifth page and you'll get the basic information you need. If, Mr. Florida could find a popular book editor, instead of a college textbook editor, he would have a hit and be the darling of every art town wannabe....more info
  • Unique in many ways-will startle you with all the facts and statistics
    The book is a unique attempt to explain regional economic development on the basis of unconventional measures such as the % of gays in the population, the % of foreign-born residents in the population and the % of the population engaged in creative occupations. The surprising part is that all of these factors mentioned above seem to explain regional economic development very well and much better than other more conventional measures such as the social capital in the community. Thus on the basis of his findings and research, the author makes the point that for cities to grow, they should be looking not just at what their business climate is but also at what their people climate is: do people from varied backgrounds feel comfortable in settling down in the community and calling it their home? Furthermore, the statistics presented conclude that while several regions in the Northeast and the West coast have been doing good on these measures, there are large stretches in the Midwest and the South that are being left out and he mentions that they have the risk of being relegated to the pages of history if they do not take corrective action in that regard. I personally did not agree with all of what was said in the book and also felt that the book reflects some of the euphoria about creativity that followed in the wake of the stock market boom (such a book would have been unlikely in more sane times of 2005) but nevertheless am not able to refute the statistical evidence that the author presents. Also by having spoken to people of my generation, I realize that some of the ways in which the author states people making decisions about where to move are indeed true and I can attest people saying that it is more "cool" and "hip" to be in Seattle or SF rather than being in Detroit or Gary. All in all, a very different book for me because the explanations which the author offers in the context of varying regional development are different from anything I have read or heard in the past. Recommended read for those interested in the question of regional economic development and what communities must do to stimulate the same....more info
  • Dogbert as a cult creative...outsource them all!!
    With the possible exception of educators, writers, artists, and entertainers, the jobs that these so-called 'creatives' perform will be outsourced to cheaper countries. One only has to read the business section of the Seattle dailies to confirm the notion that `creative class' be damned - many a company's decision to outsource various engineers, etc. to countries with cheaper sources of labor.
    "Cultural Creatives" beware, if you work for anyone but yourself, you could be next....more info
  • Insightful!
    The good news is, Richard Florida's book recognizes the growing economic and sociological impact of creativity. The bad news is that in just two years, it has lost some of its gloss. The collapse of the bull market, the popping of the bubble, the 9/11 trauma, each took some shine off of the creative economy, with its casual dress days, flexible schedules and free rides. But even though this appraisal occasionally sounds quaint, we believe that the book's faith in the transforming economic and social power of creativity, its broad view, and its excellent references and quotations make it worth recommending....more info
  • The signs have been posted.
    This is a warning that while Europe is too liberal the U.S. is too conservative. The path to success is some where in the middle. We shouls stop being reactive and start being proactive....more info
  • a relic of the bubble economy
    This book was conceived during the 1990s when the high-tech bubble economy caused a labor shortage which made it possible for recent college grads with the right "hot" skills to "write their own tickets". Professor Florida wondered why Pittsburgh, his home town, was having trouble attracting high-tech talent, and graduates from local schools were choosing to move away. He found that these young, single, upper-income, well-educated people were making job choices based on geography. They wanted to live somewhere "fun" for young people. That is with amenities such as a vibrant night life, opportunities for outdoor recreation such as biking, rock climbing, etc. Thus they chose places like Austin TX with its music scene over Pittsburgh with its symphony.

    This is interesting enough, and Florida makes the connection to earlier work (especially that of Jane Jacobs) on what makes a city an "authentic" and interesting place to live.

    It is well known that as time goes on, so-called "knowledge workers" are becoming a larger and larger part of the economy. However Florida, perhaps driven to some "irrational exuberance" by the bubble economy we were living in when he was writing this, makes some pretty outlandish claims for the importance and power of this class of workers (which he calls "the creative class"). As of mid-2004, this all seems a quaint relic of 1990s "new economy" optimism.

    He also fails to address two things which have had a huge impact on the labor market in recent years:

    He mentions but does not address at any length the collapse of the high-tech bubble, and what impact this change will have on the phenomena he describes. It would seem that most of what he describes is (at least for now) no longer true, as high-tech workers can no longer pick and choose but are now in the position of being glad to find any job at all.

    He does not mention at all the phenomenon of overseas outsourcing. This may not have been a hot topic when the book was written but by the time (Fall '03) he wrote the preface to the paperback edition it was so, and he does not even mention it, despite the fact that it is at the very least having a large psychological effect on the high-tech job market....more info

  • Rise of the Creative Class profiles
    Richard Florida is one of the leading social techonomic cultural thinkers and authors of the current times, as important to his generation as Naisbitt (Megatrends, High Tech High Touch) and Porter (On Competition, Competitive Advantage) and Peters (Circle of Innovation, In Search of Excellence) were to theirs. Richard is also a rising star on the national lecture circuit, giving several hundred invited lectures a year.

    Whether you are looking for personal insights into the culture and prospects for the region you are living in or moving to now, or you are working to enhance your own enterprises and community, this book is for you.

    Florida has made a career out of understanding the socioeconomic chemistry that drives the knowledge age (creativity, expression, innovation, diversity, etc.) and communicating the dynamics to the rest of us in a fresh way. The Rise of the Creative Class embodies much of his research and insights into what makes some regions prosper in the knowledge age and others to wither.

    One of the cities in my region, Albuquerque, fairs very well on Florida's creativity indices for cities its size (#1). His book helps guide me in my work to interweave commerce and culture in this region, to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, to recognize and celebrate the full spectrum of peoples and expressions in the region from the arts to technologies.


    Bravo, Richard!...more info

  • Lots of data, not much focus
    The key concept of this book is the existence of a new Creative Class. Richard throws into the Creative Class almost everybody and groups them in two categories: the Super Creative Core and the "creative professionals". These two groups include: scientists, professors, poets, novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, architects, non-fiction writers, editors, cultural figures, researchers, analysts, programmers, engineers, filmmakers, financial services, legal and health care professionals, business management and the list goes on. The problem is that the definition of this class is so loose. Even Richard admits that the definition is not really clear, but he goes on discarding the importance of rigour. A class must have political alignment as an expression of a common ground in the way wealth is created and distributed. It should be reflected in the way people vote; otherwise the class does not make sense. It is difficult to convince anyone that you can put these people in the same class: engineers and artists, accountants and actors.

    The book uses shocking statistics and quotes and then follows through with flashy language to wrap up a nicely packaged chapter. The problem is that the book has enough time to loose the reader after seemingly never ending debates. This book has so much information and so little structure. All those tables are useless because they do not support a coherent system of principles or story. The writing is difficult to read and very repetitive. After the first fifty pages the same arguments are being rotated again and again: creativity is important, the time of agriculture has passed, the heavy industry is not important for global leadership, there is tension between individual freedom and corporation rigidity, etc.

    In describing the new class, Richard Florida observes that "Fewer than one-quarter of all Americans (23.5 percent) accounted for by the 2000 Census lived in a 'conventional' nuclear family, down from 45 percent in 1960. This is social group is mentioned many times in the book. By contrast, the family social group is almost completely ignored. I have the impression that this is actually the creative class and all these indexes (Bohemian, Single, Gay, etc) match quite well the group's dynamics.

    I gave this book a two stars rating purely on style and clarity and overall coherence of the book. I think that regardless of the political affiliation, the reader will have genuine difficulty in following the book from the beginning to the end. For instance, in discussing the transformations of every day life, in a polemic with other authors Richard says:

    "Juxtaposed to this view are those who believe technology and unbridled market forces are making us work harder and faster, leaving us less time to enjoy each other and out interests, destroying human connections and damaging our neighbourhoods and communities. If the techno-utopians romanticize the future, these techno pessimists glorify the past. Unfettered hypercapitalism is leading to the end of work and the demise of high paying, secure jobs, according to social critics like Jeremy Rifkin. Worse yet, the elimination of such jobs destroy an important source of social stability, argues Richard Sennett, casting people adrift, corroding our collective character and damaging the very fibre of society. The workplace is evolving into an increasingly stressful and dehumanizing "white-collar sweatshop" in Fill Fraser's view, beset by long hours and chronic overwork. In the eyes of cultural critic Tom Frank, business has become an all-powerful and hegemonic cultural force, as entities like MTV and The Gap turn alternative-culture symbols into money making devices. Neighbourhoods, cities and society as a whole are losing the strong sense of community and civic-minded spirit that were the source of our prosperity, argues Robert Putnam. In his nostalgia for a bygone era of VFW halls, bowling leagues, Cub Scout troops and Little League, Putnam contends that the demise of these repositories of `social capital' is the source of virtually all of our woes..."

    If you were able to read the text above without losing your concentration and you remembered what started it, then you might be able to read the book and even like it. Otherwise you will probably find that after you read page after page you realise your thoughts were wondering somewhere else. You come back, re-read those pages, only to find you lost your thoughts again.
    ...more info
  • Interesting Socieoculture Defined
    Florida's book tells us that the creative class of humanity is a force to be reckoned with!...more info
  • A Great Reference Point for Creative Thinking.
    This is quite a good book if a little over written - some of the key points could be made in less space. The core arguments are well presented and supported by some clever analysis and related knowledge.

    It does not provide a ready made answer to the issue of what and where makes creativity or creates wealth - it does provide logical and detailed evidence and reference points that are valuable to allow you to make your own decisions. More than worth the cost if you ever have to make decisions on where to locate a business or your family, or want to make changes to your local community that is not creating the wealth that makes any place a better place to live....more info

  • The Importance of Place
    I highly recommend this book. As a professional who cares deeply about the survival of his own urban area, I found this book an indispensable and provocative read. I do have some reservations (below), but, nonetheless, recommend this book to anyone who cares about the future of cities. More detailed review follows.

    Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class tells two stories. First, Florida tells the story of an emergent social class comprised of people engaged creatively in the workplace. Because creativity qua capital is the most critical resource in the new economy - as opposed to more traditional sources of capital such as land and natural resources - the "creative class" wields considerable influence in transforming societal norms. The societal transformations ushered in by the creative class are, in fact, means to further nurture and support creativity. Everything from a looser dress code to the postponement of marriage and family can be viewed as reflections of the needs and wants of people actively engaged in creative pursuits.

    After detailing this emergent class - and identifying this class as the vanguard of economic growth in the 21st century - Florida instructs regions on how best to attract and maintain the creative class. Cities and regions would do well, Florida insists, on accommodating the needs and wants of the creative class. Places that offer a diverse array of authentic experiences and a tolerant attitude toward different lifestyles will excel in attracting creative workers. Inherent in this argument is that place - more than ever - is the key determinant in fomenting creativity, and, by association, economic growth.

    In the first part of the book, where he expounds upon the makeup of the creative class, Florida pulls together a great amount of scholarship from many different disciplines on economic and societal change. This, in itself, is impressive and the book serves as an indispensable repository for the current academic discourse on societal transformation in the post-industrial, post-modernist world. More importantly, Florida gives creative workers much needed attention and recognition. More than just a fringe group of R&D specialists and street performers, Florida convincingly argues that creative workers are the economic leaders and accurate barometers for social change. Although his definition of creative worker might be a bit expansive (30 percent of the workforce), this does not diminish the argument that these workers have influence far beyond what many recognize.

    The Rise of the Creative Class is strongest, however, when Florida is on more familiar ground; that is, when Florida, the regional economist, can expound upon the importance of place in attracting and nurturing creative talent. Much of his discussion in this section revolves around the importance "Three T's"- Technology, Talent and Tolerance. Cities with a robust combination of these factors are leading creative centers. Florida's thesis is buttressed by his own rigorous statistical analysis as well as statistical analysis of others based on Florida's observations.

    A couple notes of criticism and caution. First, Florida's economic history discussion - all of economic history is a means to harness creativity - is unwieldy and an unnecessary whitewash. This discussion slows the trajectory of his argument and it could be argued that this condensed historical discussion cuts against his general argument that this is a period of singular economic and social change. Also, Florida shifts the focus from city to region a bit too freely. Florida is clear that a vital urban core is a necessary component to a region's attractiveness to the creative class; however, the book falls short of a serious discussion about the critical relationship between core and suburbs. Reading this book with an eye to rejuvenate the urban core, I felt a greater recognition of the struggle for resources between the core and the suburbs was necessary - especially in resource-poor regions. Too often, Florida assumes a natural symbiosis between the two.

    That said the book is a must-read for those who care about the future of their cities and regions. The book is certainly provocative and Florida never pulls punches - he even goes after the vaunted Robert Putnam. Although briefly acknowledging the pitfalls of the creative class's social influence, I think it is safe too say that Florida is a cheerleader for the social changes ushered in by the creative class. I'm much less sanguine. The lifestyle demanded by the creative economy - the blurring of work and personal space and the diminished focus on family - could be the creative class's undoing.
    ...more info
  • Politicos: ignore at your own risk!
    Unlike one of the other reviewers, I did not get the impression
    that Florida is primarily an ivory-tower theoretician. Rather,
    he constantly grounds his conclusions in facts and observations,
    often substantiated statistically, i.e. what is actually happening.
    His starting point is metropolitan areas in the U.S. and the world
    that are actually prospering (some of which were economic backwaters
    just two decades ago), and he asks "why?"

    His answers sometimes run counter to the bromides of regional economic
    development still touted by politicians who, in the words of
    disappointed residents, "just don't get it." They do, however, often
    agree with Jane Jacobs, another analyst of urban life, whom many
    statist renewal experts in the 1960s dismissed scornfully as a romantic
    amateur, but whose star has risen ever since in that very profession.
    High-profile improvements today often consist of razing historic
    neighborhoods in favor of (1) shopping malls with "big-box" and other
    impersonal chain stores, (2) convention centers, and (3) new sports
    arenas outrageously subsidized from the public purse on behalf of
    for-profit companies featuring employees with six- and seven-digit
    salaries, who virtually hold a city for ransom under threat of moving
    elsewhere, together with a handful of wealthy and powerful fans who
    desire exclusive, plush box seats unavailable in older stadiums.

    Where such colosseums and other facilities have thus far come to pass,
    Florida observes (not theorizes) that the promised economic benefit to
    their areas has not-- especially considering the opportunity cost of
    the neighborhoods destroyed and the other possible directions in which
    such money and attention could have been aimed. Equally significant,
    these projects leave those very people cold that vital companies
    actually locate or re-locate to attract. "As Hewlett-Packard CEO
    Carley Fiorina once told this nations's governors: 'Keep your tax
    incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly
    skilled people are.'" (p.6). This is not theory. This is a statement of
    policy from a representative major corporation in the growth sector of our

    Florida summarizes the characteristics that attract such residents
    as "3 Ts: technology, talent, and tolerance." All three must be
    fostered. To the critics: what better ideas do you have, and how
    do you support them empirically?

    My only quibble is to wish that the book had been copy-edited and
    proof-read better. The frequency of typos and ungracious prose
    sometimes becomes rather embarrassing....more info

  • The way things work
    Richard Florida's study began with a rather straightforward premise: what characterizes the cities and regions that are economically successful today? His conclusions are rather controversial, but, based on the statistical evidence he presents (as well as my own experience), I found them highly convincing.

    The liveliest economies, he finds, are in regions characterized by the 3 T's -- talent, technology, and tolerance. The implications are profound, to wit:

    1. Conventional wisdom holds that, to boost an area's economy, it's necessary to attract large companies and thus create jobs. In fact, companies locate where the talent is; all the tax breaks in the world won't bring a large company to your area if they can't find the quality of employees they want there. Often, too, the talent itself will generate new companies and create jobs that way.

    2. Urban planners assume that, to attract talent/jobs, what's important is to provide infrastructure: sports stadiums, freeways, shopping centers, etc. In fact, creative people prefer authenticity -- so making your city just like everyplace else is a sure way to kill its attractiveness.

    3. The often-misunderstood "gay index" doesn't mean that gay people are more creative, or that attracting gays to a community will ipso facto boost its economy. Creative people tend to prefer gay-friendly communities because they're perceived as tolerant of anyone who isn't "mainstream"; a city that's run by a conservative good-ole-boys network isn't a good place to try to start a business unless you're one of the good ole boys.

    The book is primarily descriptive and analytical, rather than prescriptive. But I feel it's immensely valuable for pointing out that much of the conventional wisdom about economic development and community planning is just plain wrong, and suggesting alternative approaches that have a greater chance of succeeding. And I'm amused (and bemused) by the reviewers who sneered that this book propounds an elitist, liberal, contempt-for-the-working-masses view of American society. To me, the book is almost TOO descriptive: didn't these reviewers read the many statistical tables and the lengthy analyses that the author provides? Fact: The most economically successful cities and regions have these characteristics. That isn't propaganda; it's the way things work....more info


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