book review: who’s your city?

Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City? is the kind of book that reminds me why I’m not such a fan of nonfiction in book form. It’s much trickier to check up on the assertions being made when you aren’t reading nonfiction online. Habits of reading the whole thing through before checking up on it can lead one into being absorbed into the book’s world and eventually buying into what it has to say even if you wouldn’t, had you read it through someone’s Twitter feed. There’s just more investment in reading a book that makes me a bit less likely to argue with it.

Who’s Your City? is about how people should choose the place they live. The thesis is that even though the internet has changed the way the creative economy works, place still matters. Florida breaks it down by major life stage and provides tables of what the best places in the U.S. for each of those demographics is. The idea is that clustering creative people together makes for more creativity and better urban existence.

The problem is that this whole thing applies solely to his “creative class” or what in previous decades would be called yuppies. There’s no real discussion of the working class, beyond “suckers that can’t afford to move somewhere better should hope they have a support network built in wherever they’re stuck.” Doing some post-book reading of Florida’s other work it’s clear he doesn’t really have anything to say for people who want to make the places they already live any better. The U.S.-centric nature of the discussion also made it less than useful in the Canadian context, where we’ve got far fewer cities to choose from.

Basically, I feel like I should have read a good critique of the book rather than the book itself. Not recommended.

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