The Paradox of Place is one of the more interesting trends we follow.
The paradox is even though the Internet and connective technologies has made working remotely easier than ever, people and companies are increasingly clustering together in fewer, more valuable locations.
What's happening San Francisco is an obvious example. There's almost a land grab frenzy of companies and people moving into the city. But it's not just San Francisco nor just places with a lot of tech companies. All over the world, people are moving to cities and near-in suburbs.
This paradox is happening because in our knowledge-intensive world, industries and people cluster in order to share information, generate ideas and cut deals. These activities are all still better done face to face.
Companies also cluster to access talent, which is attracted to urban areas due to job opportunities and the amenites urban or near-in suburban living provide.
This paradox extends to freelancers and other independent workers.
Given how expensive cities tend to be relative to small towns or rural areas and how easy it is to telework, why do the so many independent workers choose to live in urban areas - and especially places like SF and New York?
We've been exploring this issue and the quick answer appears to be the same reasons companies and traditional employees are clustering - place matters to freelancers too.
This is, of course, not exclusively true. Growing numbers of Digital Nomads are wandering the earth and teleworking from the remotest of locations. And telecommuting is on the rise, especially for independent workers.
But for most independent workers, place matters.
The Brookings Institute has been doing a lot of work on clusters and cities. The very brief video below does a nice job of summarizing their point of view.