This recent subject line in an enewsletter from Big Think caught my attention: “Cities of Knowledge: Why We Learn Faster in Cities Than We Could on Our Own.” In this video, innovation expert John Hagel discusses the “paradox that, despite the fact that technology infrastructure has made location unimportant, we’re becoming more urbanized at a more rapid rate than ever before.”
Why? Hagel says that learning faster is becoming increasingly important — “and we simply learn faster in cities than we could on our own.” His theory, of course, would reinforce the power of conferences, which are held primarily in urban destinations. Plus, holding a meeting in a city whose intellectual assets align closely with your constituents’ area of expertise, would pack an additional wallop. In Barbara Palmer’s cover story in our December 2o12 issue about the knowledge economy, she wrote: “In a global ideas economy, experienced planners say, the transfer of knowledge between a destination’s intellectual and innovation resources and a meeting’s attendees has become not just a nice extra, but an important way for professional events to offer better value to every participant.” If Hagel is correct, by virtue of being in a city filled with talent and brimming with ideas, attendees will learn faster.