Introduction to Section 2: Information Geographies vs. Creative Clusters

By Ned Rossiter

The cluster model for the development of creative industries prevails across cities in China, just as it does around the world. In principle, this model provides businesses and entrepreneurs with the possibility of cross-fertilizing ideas and expertise. Beijing is as good an example as any, with its dozen or so creative clusters that function to quarantine creativity in a very programmatic way: Zhongguancun's High-Tech Parks, 798 Art District, Songzhuang Art & Animation Industry Cluster, China (Huairou) Movie & TV Industry Zone (CMTIZ), Beijing DRC (Design Resource Cooperation) Industrial Design Creative Industry Base, China New Media Industry Base ... and on it goes. Such concentrations of creativity are supposedly in the business of producing intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents). But they would seem best suited to driving up local real-estate prices. Indeed, there is rarely much creativity happening in the creative cluster. For that, you need to search out the informal relations that underscore the daily rhythms of metropolitan life. The production of information geographies provides one technique for registering the correspondence between open information flows and processes of collaboration. Drink your café latte with free wifi connections, and you're more likely to discover some genuine creativity in the making.