Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Where Were You When You Realized the World Is Flat? (Or Have You?)

Amazon.ca has a great interview with Thomas L. Friedman, the author of the new non-fiction book The World Is Flat : Where Were You When You Realized the World Is Flat? (Or Have You?).

Quoted from the interview:

...most of our political elite has not realized that the world is flat. Most of the leading U.S. companies get it and are responding like crazy. But no one has told the country, because most of our politicians don’t have a clue. I just wrote a 469-page book about this and I interviewed only two people in Washington--and I live in Washington! [laughter] We are led by lawyers who do not understand either technology or balance sheets. I am hoping, though, that many of them have kids, who, when they have a moment to take a break from their iPods, Internet, or Google, will explain to their parents running the country just how the world is being flattened.


I have a daughter who is a sophomore in college and another who is in the 11th grade of high school. My message to them is very simple: Girls, when I was growing up my parents used to say to me, "Tom, finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." I say to my girls, "Girls, finish your homework. People in China and India are starving for your jobs." When the world was round, say 30 years ago, you would much rather have been born a B+ student in Indianapolis, Indiana, rather than a genius in Bangalore, India. Because the Indian genius, unless he or she could get a visa out of India, really could not plug and play with his or her talent. Today, you do not want to be a B+ student in Indianapolis. You would much rather be a genius in India, because that genius can now innovate at a global level without ever having to emigrate. That is what the flat world makes possible.

Should we be concerned about this?--

There is no substitute for face-to-face reporting and research. But it is now much easier to do all the things that go with it. I basically did all the library research for this book on Google, and it not only saved me enormous amounts of time but actually gave me a much richer offering of research in a shorter time....

Certainly some thought-provoking statements in the interview. Okay, so now I'm going to have to take a look at the book itself.

Aside from supply chains, economics, and globalization, I think the act of blogging itself has helped to flatten things out. Never before has it been so easy for so many average people to publish their opinions widely. I wonder if we are in the midst of a publishing revolution as influential as the advent of the Gutenberg printing press?

1 comment:

Steve Matthews said...

The problem with Friedman, is that he still thinks Libraries are 'round'. That might have been true 30 or 40 years ago...