are never going to come back, because they simply can't participate in the information revolution. But I think there are cities that will come out of it and flourish and prosper. I'm hoping that Los Angeles will be one of those cities.

Where do we see a model for all this? I think we have to look at the very reason why people came to cities in the first place. I look at the Renaissance as being sort of the key paradigm. If you look back at cities such as Venice or Florence, they provided services which could not be provided in any other way. So the first thing a city has to ask itself is: What can it can provide that Irvine cannot? What can it provide that can't be found in Redmond, Wash., or Boise, Idaho or some suburb of Dallas?

One of the things that the great Renaissance cities had was that they were tremendous marketplaces of cross-cultural trade -- different kinds of people trading ideas and goods. That is something that is very difficult to do in Plain Oaks, Texas. That is one thing that great cities can do. Also, they are incredibly important as cultural centers. That is one of their great strengths. They are centers of painting, music, drama. And if it is going to be true in the future that the great virtual city is going to take place for the creative content industry, and that this is going to be the growth sector of high tech that is really going to make a difference, then I think we can use that as a base to move cities into an advantageous position in the Information Age.

The other thing about the Renaissance city, connected with artisanship and very much the other part of the equation, is the ability to make and design interesting new products, whether it be clothes or furniture or creative ways of being. In the kind of post-industrial city that I'm talking about, the Renaissance characteristics -- cross-cultural trade and development of culture and artisanship -- are going to have to be worked on, concentrated on, as this is where cities can out perform, by their very nature, the more suburban nerd culture.

So really there are two models. They will be able to culturally coexist successfully. But the question is whether cities will be able to incubate this creative technology culture so that they can find a future in the 21st century.

Q: Do you have ideas about how a city might do that?

A: If you take a look at where entertainment and culture employment is in North America, Los Angeles has 240,000, New York has 43,000, Toronto has 28,000 and Chicago has 25,000. If you take a look at the entertainment industry, why did it not move to Irvine or Salt Lake City or Las Vegas or Boise, Idaho?

I've worked in television myself, and I can tell you that the entertainment industry is intensely collaborative. You have to work with the person who edits the film. You have to deal with the people who handle the sound and so on. You have the coming together of different skill sets. And that is what Los Angeles, more than any place in the United States and perhaps anywhere in the world, has. You needed those skill sets to work together and very, very quickly get a project done on time.

So this is one of the areas where cities have a comparative advantage. Now they can blow it. In Los Angeles, for instance, there are a tremendous number of people who work at home and who are making a good living -- the 90,000 freelancers in the entertainment industry in L.A. So what happens? The City Council has decided that -- now people are actually making

Blake Harris  |  Editor