High Metabolism Cities

Yet another Wall Street Journal story jumped out to me over this past weekend. It was a bit of fluff about why some big and dense cities have high creative and economic “metabolisms” while other big and dense cities don’t. The author’s explanation is that high-metabolism cities do a better job of maximizing ‘the potential informal contact of the average person in a given public space at any given time’.

As an average person who often finds himself in various public spaces, I can confirm anecdotally that when it comes to creative metabolisms New York’s tech neighborhoods are 17 year-old boys.

Here are a couple real-world examples:

I spent a day last week Loosecubing in DUMBO and, having forgotten to bring my lunch, hopped down to the deli on Jay Street. While waiting for my sandwich I found myself standing next to the founder of a very up-and-coming dating site and then, on the way to the cash register, I ran into one of the cornerstones of a very hip creative community who I had known slightly years ago. Two minutes of chatting with the dating site founder yielded a lead for SeizeTheCrowd and five minutes of chatting with the creative cornerstone yielded an invitation to work out of her studio some time.

When I returned to the office I decided to be a friendly co-worker and introduced myself to  the woman sitting to my left and the man sitting to my right. Turns out the woman was someone who I had been meaning to connect with based on a mutual friend’s suggestion. And the man was a recent transplant from Austin with experience in building and running large-scale crowdsource-ish contests. Beyond being pleasant to talk to, I am sure that these two will be excellent professional contacts in the coming months and years.

The best part of these interactions were that they didn’t occur in insider-y spaces. We were not at exclusive clubs or expensive power lunch restaurants; the deli was affordable and getting office space through Loosecubes is free.

This was “what a small world!” at its finest and most productive.