Saturday, April 28, 2012

why small capital loves BIG CITIES

   It's a big lie, a BIG LIE in the Joseph Goebbels' sense of that phrase, to keep repeating that lots of capital is needed to be a successful entrepreneur of ideas (discoveries and inventions) in the biggest of the big cities: cities like London, Paris and New York.
   The reverse is true : which is why so many creative people, like Northern Irish writer Charlotte Riddell, have always flocked to global cities ----- and always will .

  Where you DO need lots of money is if you wish to transmit your signal into every small town across a vast nation like America: hence the capital needed to set up and run the NBC-TV network is immense.
   But the densely built up, wealthy and varied population of the metropolitan area of a 'world city' overs two advantages to the person long on new ideas and short on capital.
   One can rise from one's own bed, take inexpensive public transit, reach anyone of 10 million potential customers and return to one's own bed by nightfall.
   That will give you a bare living while you are waiting, let us say, for a big gallery to take on your paintings downtown.
   In world cities there are lots of national and international institutions and media all competing intensely for the next big thing.
   Their individual desire and ability to 'gatekeep out' any unwanted newcomer's radical new ideas is gravely weakened by the fear that a competitor - strictly for commercial, competitive reasons - will promote this unwashed radical and where then would you be ?
   Another hot exclusive lost.
   Meanwhile our lucky young radical has not just a metropolitan audience now - global city media has a national and international audience.
   Today's review by the art critic from the New York Times who luckily stumbles on some little gallery opening in Flatbush Brooklyn, will tomorrow be read in Des Moines and in Delhi India and all points beyond.
   Gatekeeping works best when governments set the rules: only the BBC has access to the airwaves, only Oxford and Cambridge grant degrees, we only consult fellows of the Royal Society in matters of science, etc. We will run your plays and movie films pass our censor board before anyone sees it.
   But newspapers, magazines and books are published by anyone who can pay one of a hundred highly competitive printers ---- and haven't really been heavily censored for centuries in most democracies.
   Gatekeeping works hard to prevent Private knowledge from becoming effectively Public, in my sense of those words.
   The best gatekeepers in the world can't stop a scientist from publishing in some obscure new journal, but they can gatekeep him out of the widely-read, widely cited, journals like NATURE.
   His new knowledge is effectively stillborn.
   But preventing that obscure article from now going POPULAR is something beyond the best gatekeepers - if for some reason HARPERS magazine decide to run a 3500 word article on the scientist.
   The best chance for that to happen -oh say, ' well connected New York freelancer's Utah-based sister-in-law just happens to edit that obscure journal and just happens to be in the Big Apple to see the new baby' - is still most likely to happen in big global cities....

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