The first class of the new Cornell-Technion school of engineering (which appears to be what is being built in NYC) opened in Google’s NYC headquarters this week. That’s not good news. Goggle is a remarkable company but it is totally male/tech/engineering driven. I guess Technion is that way too. Brilliant guys come up with terrific new tech ideas and then–and only then–try to find a cultural/social need for them. Clearly that tech-driven strategy works but it feels very 20th century.
Most of the hot new startups are founded by designers or people with a big exposure to design. We have the Design Fund and a couple of dozen new companies to prove that. And then there is New York City. This city, my city, runs on culture, not technology. The hottest firms here, RGA, Kickstarter and the media and marketing firms, know this.
The real business of business in New York is mining the existential. It’s excavating the meaning of America’s changing demographics, ethnic shifts, gender changes, class movements. Its about understanding global cities and urban cultures.
Creativity is about mining this kind of social and cultural knowledge and connecting it to the appropriate technologies–some of them new, some old. The food truck revolution–a part of the revived Maker Culture–involves OLD technology–trucks.
The real reason I wanted Stanford to win the contest to build a new school in NYC was not that it would bring its world-class engineering to the city. A Stanford win would have brought the D-School to New York. It would have brought design, creativity and innovation to the mix of technology and business.
Cornell Technion needs a C-School, a Creativity School, to really work in NYC.