July 09, 2014


Clay Shirky is leaving New York. The media theorist, New York University professor - and long-time Big Apple resident - will be heading to Shanghai this summer as part of an appointment with NYU. 

Why would the man long known for critiquing — and seeing the possibilities of the Internet — want to head abroad?

"Shanghai is really the only other city besides New York where I've felt like there's no one thing going on," he says. "It just seems so extraordinarily full of possibility. It's not like it's just a banking city or it's just an art and design city or it's just an education city. It's all there."

Like many, Shirky sees the best innovations and businesses springing from places where diverse sets of people mix. 

Writer Richard Florida has long argued that cities must now compete to attract this "creative class," whose members include "scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the 'thought leadership' of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion-makers."  

Shirky says that in Shanghai, he sees tangible benefits from creative cross-pollination. "What interests me about Shanghai is what interests me about New York, which is the hybridization much more than any given industry. The possibility that the Maker Movement and the digital arts people and the fashion people are somehow going to get together and do something extraordinary that no one of those groups could have accomplished on their own."

Where do you think the best cities for innovating are? Are they in America? Or somewhere else in the world? What makes them great?

Clay Shirky, Shanghai

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