Innovation Culture Bulletin: A comfortable distance

Innovation Culture Bulletin: A comfortable distance

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“Innovation comes from the interactions of people at a comfortable distance from one another, neither too close nor too far.” — Malcolm Gladwell

In an article that’s now nearly 15 years old, Malcolm Gladwell compared the layout of Silicon Valley offices to that of Greenwich Village in New York. He draws from author Jane Jacobs, who lived on Hudson St in the early 1960s, near the intersection between Bleecker St and 8th Ave. Jacobs attributes the neighborly community — where residents would leave keys for friends with the bodega guy, and the candy store owner would supervise children crossing the street — to the particular configuration of the Village’s buildings and roads. She argued that when a neighborhood is oriented toward the street, the active sidewalks become host to serendipitous interactions between different people, who form relationships via casual contacts that they would otherwise never have met.

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