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Rengen: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer - and What It Means to Your Business

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REN GEN The good news: America is on the brink of a new renaissance. The bad news: Many companies, the media, and even the general population still see America as an intellectual and cultural wasteland defined by reality television and fast food. In this groundbreaking book, cultural specialist Patricia Martin challenges that presumption and argues that we are on the preci REN GEN The good news: America is on the brink of a new renaissance. The bad news: Many companies, the media, and even the general population still see America as an intellectual and cultural wasteland defined by reality television and fast food. In this groundbreaking book, cultural specialist Patricia Martin challenges that presumption and argues that we are on the precipice of a major cultural renaissance. Who we are and what we care about is shifting-and a new set of imperatives, products, behaviors, and ambitions is emerging. RenGen looks at the factors giving rise to this huge economic, social, and cultural shift, including: A growing desire to express new ideas and concepts aesthetically The renewed interest in learning fueled by the Internet A longing to find a new order amongst endless complexity Rising interest in enlightenment, evangelism, and reinventing oneself Increased concern about political, social, and environmental issues.


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REN GEN The good news: America is on the brink of a new renaissance. The bad news: Many companies, the media, and even the general population still see America as an intellectual and cultural wasteland defined by reality television and fast food. In this groundbreaking book, cultural specialist Patricia Martin challenges that presumption and argues that we are on the preci REN GEN The good news: America is on the brink of a new renaissance. The bad news: Many companies, the media, and even the general population still see America as an intellectual and cultural wasteland defined by reality television and fast food. In this groundbreaking book, cultural specialist Patricia Martin challenges that presumption and argues that we are on the precipice of a major cultural renaissance. Who we are and what we care about is shifting-and a new set of imperatives, products, behaviors, and ambitions is emerging. RenGen looks at the factors giving rise to this huge economic, social, and cultural shift, including: A growing desire to express new ideas and concepts aesthetically The renewed interest in learning fueled by the Internet A longing to find a new order amongst endless complexity Rising interest in enlightenment, evangelism, and reinventing oneself Increased concern about political, social, and environmental issues.

30 review for Rengen: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer - and What It Means to Your Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Since the internet killed my attention span it takes me 3-4 years to finish a book these days. This one might have only taken 9 months. Even though it is really aimed at business men who need to shake up their business man practice (maybe by getting a mohawk hairdo or something), I still enjoyed it. I think the basic purpose of the book is to dispel the myth that all Americans are uncultured morons by providing examples of business people who successfully enhance their businesses through the inc Since the internet killed my attention span it takes me 3-4 years to finish a book these days. This one might have only taken 9 months. Even though it is really aimed at business men who need to shake up their business man practice (maybe by getting a mohawk hairdo or something), I still enjoyed it. I think the basic purpose of the book is to dispel the myth that all Americans are uncultured morons by providing examples of business people who successfully enhance their businesses through the inclusion of art, music, theater, or poetry. Throw in some statistics about how often the average American goes to an art exhibit or a play and you get a pretty rosy picture of cultural awareness in the U.S. I finished this a few months ago and gave it to the Goodwill, but this book is on my mind lately since I just found out that I now work directly across the street from one of the companies it profiles, a plastic gear factory with its own built in art gallery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally. DISCLOSURE: A number of my personal friends were interviewed and featured in the book under review today, including Brandy Agerbeck, Kurt Heinz and Ben Ortiz. I was unaware of this until halfway through the book myself; it played no part in my decision to review it here, or in what I had to say about (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally. DISCLOSURE: A number of my personal friends were interviewed and featured in the book under review today, including Brandy Agerbeck, Kurt Heinz and Ben Ortiz. I was unaware of this until halfway through the book myself; it played no part in my decision to review it here, or in what I had to say about it.) In the times we live in, it's highly tempting I think to view the US as currently in the all-time lowest depths of its cultural nadir; to see the American populace as essentially brain-dead, uneducated, xenophobic mouth-breathers, happily sucking on the sour, milk-dry teat of a corporate entertainment industry awash in greed and corruption, a trillion-dollar monster so devoid now of any originality that all it can offer up anymore is such "Fall of the American Empire" tripe as game shows, hate porn, The DaVinci Code, and an all-consuming obsession with burned-out teenage girls. There's only one problem with this, though, argues business and marketing expert Patricia Martin, which is that it's simply not true: as she sets out to prove in her new book RenGen: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer -- And What It Means to Your Business, the US is in fact on the brink of a far-reaching new cultural renaissance, a re-emphasis on deep thought and inner peace that is fueling so much of the Obamania we're seeing this election season. In the coming years, she says, you're going to see the general populace embrace things like the arts, philosophy, material monasticism and socialistic volunteerism in a way like they never have before, partly as a Bush backlash and partly as a simple reflection of the global, creative times we live in; and if you're the owner of a small business, she further argues, you'd do yourself some good by anticipating and planning for this now, versus continuing to assume that your customer base will always be fascinated by "Girls Gone Wild" and "American Idol." But this immediately brings us to a fairly large problem with RenGen; not that Martin's logic is faulty, because it's not, but precisely that there are a growing amount of people in public who have already argued this, and sometimes argued it in a better, clearer way. Because make no mistake, Martin's "Renaissance Generation" (where the "RenGen" from the book's title comes from) is not much different from what other people call the "Creative Class," and what yet other people call the "Bohemian Bourgeoisie" (or "BoBo"); highly educated, urban-dwelling, globalist-savvy, environmentally concerned white-collar workers with creative backgrounds, that is, or in other words just about every single person who reads the CCLaP website on a regular basis, not to mention your humble critic writing this review. And indeed, if you're already familiar with the work of such thinkers as Richard Florida, Seth Godin, Kevin Kelly and Carl Shirky, there's going to be almost no reason for you to read RenGen at all, except to see which new buzzwords she's created for terms others have already coined*; like them, Martin argues that creativity and collaboration are becoming more and more a part of all people's everyday lives, that more and more Americans are creating personal "pidgin religions" for themselves, that the marketing watchwords of tomorrow are going to be "global" and "transparent" and "transcendent." And that's...well, it's interesting, for sure, but ultimately is not much more than an introduction to ideas that have already been extensively written about by others for years now. Now, to be fair, this problem is not exclusive to RenGen but rather is sadly endemic to the entire genre of business publishing, unfortunately brought about by the times we live in; that in order to have the kinds of "ripple-effect" successes a person needs anymore to be considered a "business expert" (appearing on wacky morning TV shows, guest-blogging at the Huffington Post), one needs the actual rock in the center of it all known as that 200-page book, causing and inspiring all those ripples in the first place. And in this case a rock is a particularly appropriate metaphor; because not to put too fine a point on it, but most full-sized business books in existence are based only on a single magazine article's worth of actual interesting original content, padded out to 200 pages by citing endless examples and constantly repeating oneself, along with such other cheats as large type, small book dimensions, extra-wide margins, and the constant use of two or three blank lines whenever one will do. Sadly, RenGen is guilty of all the things just mentioned, making it merely an okay book but one you certainly don't need to go out of your way to pick up; Martin definitely has some interesting stuff to say, stuff all you small-business owners should be paying attention to, but unfortunately for her you can learn it all simply by standing next to a table in your local Borders on a Saturday afternoon, reading the introduction and appendix while clutching your bicycle helmet and sucking on an iced latte. (In fact, like I said, this is how I recommend reading most business books besides the truly phenomenal ones; if ever a genre of publishing was made for quick scanning at corporate bookstores on Saturday afternoons, it was this.) It's definitely worth your time if a copy happens to fall in your hands, and it's certainly worth checking out Martin's short work whenever you find it online and in magazines; but like most business books, I can't in good conscience recommend actually purchasing it, other than maybe if you're charging it to your soulless employer's expense account. Out of 10: 6.9 *Now, that all said, Martin does use a term here I've never heard anyone use before, which is the concept of a "rubber ceiling" to all these creative-class jobs being created these days; that is, since there is no proscribed way to actually succeed at these jobs, no list of rules to follow that will automatically guarantee you success, the failure rate of creative-class jobs is extraordinarily high, and in many cases has nothing to do with the worker's intelligence or dedication but rather simply dumb luck. Martin only mentions this once, though, in a throwaway sentence she never comes back to; and that's a shame, given that in my opinion an entire other book could be written just on that subject alone. There ya go, a sequel to RenGen called The Rubber Ceiling; don't say I didn't ever give you nothing, world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diana Nagy

    I found this book very interesting. I haven't really read a book like this and came across it at my community's library sale and was interested enough to pick it up, thinking it may be worth a couple bucks. I was right, but I also decided that it was worth waiting on to read prior to listing. And that was the right thing to do as well. This book talks about the Renaissance Generation and the way our world is changing to reflect more art. It talks about what the Ren Gen is, the best cities to liv I found this book very interesting. I haven't really read a book like this and came across it at my community's library sale and was interested enough to pick it up, thinking it may be worth a couple bucks. I was right, but I also decided that it was worth waiting on to read prior to listing. And that was the right thing to do as well. This book talks about the Renaissance Generation and the way our world is changing to reflect more art. It talks about what the Ren Gen is, the best cities to live in for the Ren Gen and what they have in their cities that allow you to experience the best of art and learning (which the Ren Gen loves) It details everything a business needs to do (and become) to become part of the Renaissance Generation. What the customers of this generation are looking for, what they want in their lives, and what they want to do when they have time free to do something that doesn't include work! Of course, some of us are working when we are viewing and buying art too (but to me, I can imagine that must sometimes feel like fun and relaxation as well) We are wanting to learn, to know, to see beautiful art, to buy beautiful art and to experience our world! That's the Renaissance Generation and if we want to succeed in our businesses, we better start focusing on this generation because they are here!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rory

    SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED. At least 63% bullshit. Possibly 2% based on any facts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ShawnLeeZX

    The book is rather shallow. It identifies a superfacial resemblance between the Renaissance era and the current era, without really understanding what the so-called artists in the current era is about, what they try to captures. Similarly, the seek for spirituality and transcendence and fragmented religion community are the result of cultural decay where nobody believe anything that is in common, and seek to find consolation in the old practice without taking their messages seriously. It misses The book is rather shallow. It identifies a superfacial resemblance between the Renaissance era and the current era, without really understanding what the so-called artists in the current era is about, what they try to captures. Similarly, the seek for spirituality and transcendence and fragmented religion community are the result of cultural decay where nobody believe anything that is in common, and seek to find consolation in the old practice without taking their messages seriously. It misses the bigger problem.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Are all business books this silly? A very strange thesis that our civilization is about to undergo a renaissance, a case she makes by making reference to Italy circa 1300. Lots of references to good ideas that meet the needs of the current ren-gen, without fully explaining them or providing case study analysis for why they worked. Cryptic, strange advice such as "Death comes first" and "the presence of a facilitating medium." Good description of second cities, though, including Providence (where Are all business books this silly? A very strange thesis that our civilization is about to undergo a renaissance, a case she makes by making reference to Italy circa 1300. Lots of references to good ideas that meet the needs of the current ren-gen, without fully explaining them or providing case study analysis for why they worked. Cryptic, strange advice such as "Death comes first" and "the presence of a facilitating medium." Good description of second cities, though, including Providence (where I currently live), Seattle (where I may live this summer), Chicago (my favorite city) and Philly (which I've constantly heard about in a positive way in the last six months).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maha

    Interesting take on the current generation and how contrary to popular belief they are a rennaissance generation. More interest in arts, in sciences and so on- just in non-traditional ways that are missed on the radar...The author also tracks the historical criteria/circumstance to a renaissance and shows how those same situations are in effect today... Great read for marketers, anthropologists and people nosy to see how we are being looked at by academics...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Referred by Susan Bratton, thanks Susan!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Recommended by Helene Blowers at TechConnections 2008 conference...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Martin is the Scholar in Residence I've been working with. Some of the ideas are right on, others seem stretched. Martin is the Scholar in Residence I've been working with. Some of the ideas are right on, others seem stretched.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Holly Hickman

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  14. 4 out of 5

    William Hanff

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maria Rolim

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Passabet

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Coro

  19. 5 out of 5

    Walker Brands

  20. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosemarie Cuffy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Detoto

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ray Jackson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ed Schipul

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brennan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jo LeGare

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