In the article “The Transformation of Everyday Life” published in his book The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life (2002), Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz professor of economic development, Richard Florida gives his insight and theories of colleagues to the subject, by associating the parallelism of social adaptations of two men (from the turn of the twentieth and the mid-twentieth century, respectively) and placing them fifty years into the future, comparison with the transformation or shift in the fundamentals of our past economic infrastructure compared to the rise of creativity over the older, more “corporate” economic dynamic.
Metaphorically speaking, he wants us to visualize taking a man from the 1900’s and placing him into the 1950’s. In which we then take a man from the lifestyle of the 1950’s, place him in the present time. Which would lack more in adapting to life in their newer, more “futuristic” surroundings? Which one would be less versatile? He believes that the difference in change between the turn of the century would be less of a “culture shock” on the man now in the 1950’s. He goes on by stating, “Someone from the early 1900’s would find the social world of the 1950’s remarkably similar to his own” (303). The change of factory or office life would be less drastic to him than the consequential bewilderment of the second man, comparatively. Although new experiences with radio, electricity, and television; the women would still be at home, he could still wear his suit and tie to work, work his same eight hour day, and ultimately experience less of a change. The gentleman from the 1950’s, however, would experience a whole new realm of change. Different dynamics in the economy, fashion, lifestyle preferences, new gadgets, and technology would likely cause confusion and incomprehension. The author states that to the second man: ”People would seem to be always working and yet never working when they were supposed to. They would strike him as lazy and yet obsessed with exercise. They would seem career conscious yet fickle – doesn’t anybody stay with the company more than three years? – and caring yet anti-social” (304).
The author makes good sense of it all, tying in the example of the two men with common thoughts we all have from time to time. Listening to certain “What-ifs” and the timeless anecdotes of “you know when I was your age.” Those of us, who are younger, could never fathom not having a computer, cell phone, microwave, blogs, or Email. We take for granted the relaxed environments we enjoy compared to the stand-up straight, uppity “9-5” days of old, though they haven’t totally gone. The more extroverted and optimistic creative process of today alone has changed this world, even as we know it, let alone dropping some poor “Happy Days” fellow through the fabric of time to this day and age. New inventions, the morphing of certain products, art animation, smaller personal tools of communication that provide us with all the information we’ll ever need, giving us better quality social interaction and leisure.
I however disagree that the confusion of the “unfounded and silly notion that big companies are dying off” (307), is not to be misinterpreted as fact. It’s “survival of the fittest” in full. Larger companies that cannot evolve to the here and now are in fact “dying off”. Corporate structure, although not extinct and never will be, is changing. The internet is evening the playing field so that rising entrepreneurs have a “fair shake” at changing the future, as we know it. Due to the breakdown of stuffy, greedy corporate types, and the rise of creativity, our future (as a whole) is now looking brighter.
Florida, Richard. “The Transformation of Everyday Life.”
The Blair Reader Exploring Contemporary Issues. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell. Sixth ed. Pearson Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, 2008. 302-308.