For those of you who aren’t aware (I admit I was a bit off), the German concept of “zeitgeist” means the “spirit of the times” and generally refers to the cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual and political climate within a nation. This reminder might make understanding Hub Culture’s 2010 Zeitgeist Rankings a bit clearer.
Hub Culture is a social network that merges the online and physical environments. Each year it compiles a list of city rankings, gathered through surveys and outreach with Hub Culture members around the world, to determine where we are headed and where the action is. In developing the rankings, Hub Culture utilizes markers such as population rankings, gross domestic product (GDP) and quality of life. This year, the list seems to be strongly influenced by cities with access to resources and those that are committed to saving the planet.
Rising to the top of Hub Culture’s list is Sao Paulo, Brazil, which was previously ranked number seven on the 2008 survey. Sao Paulo’s surprising rank as number one is due, in part, to the fact that Brazil has become one of the single most important players in the world with respect to resources. In energy, years of green policies and initiatives in biofuels are now paying dividends. As carbon markets develop, the Amazon has the potential to become a lucrative, protected carbon gold mine, according to Hub Culture’s listing.
Coming in second on the list is Berlin, which I am sure will raise some eyebrows, but when you take a closer look, you realize that Berlin remains a mecca in Eastern Europe. The city becomes more diverse every day and is home to an increasing amount of startups focused in the web 2.0 field.
Number three on the list is San Francisco. This city is a hot bed for innovation–and not just with respect to technology. There is a foodie+organic+homegrown movement going on in San Fran and it is seeping into other parts of the nation. Much of what is happening with respect to the new green economy has roots firmly planted the Bay Area.
A little farther down the California coast, Los Angeles finds itself ranked fourth on the list, followed by Shanghai, Zurich, Sydney, New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington, DC, Cape Town, Singapore, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Istanbul, Buenos Aires and finally Abu Dhabi.
New this year to the Zeitgeist list are Zurich, Cape Town and Abu Dhabi. Zurich, often considered unassuming, is sizzling these days. Companies from the UK and elsewhere are relocating to Zurich to take advantage of tax and labor benefits. This in turn is driving new construction and a need for more services. Abu Dhabi, which made the list for the first time at number twenty, is really where the money in the Middle East is right now. Momentum from flashy Dubai has shifted towards Abu Dhabi and the city is making some grand statements of its own.
Background on Hub Culture
Hub Culture has more 20,000 global urban influentials that are connected in some way to Hub. As the world’s first socially operated company, it even has its own digital social currency, the Ven. The pillars supported Hub Culture are called Pavilions. These real, low-carbon places are designed for collaboration and are membership based and driven.
Hub Culture began in 2002 with the publication of the book Hub Culture: The Next Wave of Urban Consumers, which explores globalized social communities. It released its first Zeitgeist Ranking in January of 2007. It continues to help its members build worth, enhance collaboration and create valuable content.