create those environments, then we will continue to attract the people we want. It is not by mistake that the new media community in the New York area has really stayed very close to parts of lower Manhattan -- where there is a lot of cultural energy -- or San Francisco in the Market area close to where artists have traditionally worked in San Francisco. And here in Los Angeles, on the west side of L.A., like in the city of Venice where Digital Domain is located, in communities like Santa Monica and West Hollywood where creative people want to go, where they want to shop, where they want to go out to eat. That is going to be one of the critical issues in building the new digital cities.

Q: So really what you are saying is that, even for cities like Los Angeles or New York, where there is a strong cultural base, their prosperity is by no means assured by their history. Cities can blow it big time if they don't recognize what is happening and do all they can to foster environments that attract creative people.

A: That is the danger cities face. They need to guard their uniqueness. Any city has to think about how it can be a unique, interesting experience. It has to understand it is creating an alternative product, not the same product. Don't clean up Times Square so it ends up being as boring as a mall in Orlando. And obviously you have to improve the regulatory climate.

Again, I go back to the whole question of the City Council in Los Angeles trying to tax home-based businesses. I cannot think of a stupider idea if you wanted to concentrate on this artisan-based, highly-creative urban economy. Fundamentally, what you need to do in cities is create an environment for creation, for something that cannot be done easily elsewhere. A lot of times politicians focus on fiber optics and bandwidth and all those technological solutions without thinking about the human condition, about the importance of maintaining, on one hand, traditional architecture, keeping it up to standard. And also creating new, interesting things that will inspire people, whether it is a new cathedral or a Getty Museum.

You have to create excitement. Remember, living in that city is a hassle. It's expensive. It has certain dangers that are associated with it. You have to provide the creative person with things that inspire them and make them want to stay.

And finally, what you have to do is create a new sense of urban purpose. The people who made Venice and Florence and the great cities of the Italian Renaissance had enormous pride in their cities. They were excited about their cities. One of the most exciting things I think is happening here in Southern California, and in other parts of the country as well, is a new sense of networking and involvement. We can't create the new Renaissance cities of the 21st century if we do not have a civic sense of purpose.

Q: For cities to adopt the new kind of agenda you are describing here, strong leadership -- leadership with vision if you like -- is a vital part of the equation. Do you have a sense of how we are going to organize and find the required leadership -- either by mobilizing existing leaders or by bringing new leaders to the fore?

A: I think it is a combination of several things. I hope that some of the old, existing leadership will be involved. But one of the things we are going to have to confront is that we are going to have to have, on a big-company level, leadership by individual. If you talk to even the most civicly-minded executives, you find out that

Blake Harris  |  Editor