Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The world is flat by Thomas L. Friedman

The planet we live in is not flat, we learnt that centuries ago but Thomas Friedman in his book about the brief history of the twenty first century argues that The world is flattening. It is a book about the history of future as it seems to be shaping from the history of last few years. This book details how globalization, terrorism, finance and economic boom in China and India is going to shape our world in coming days. The main theme of this book is the metaphor for the global leveling of competition and capability through globalization. Friedman analyzes how accelerated change is made possible by intersecting technological advances and social protocols, e.g. cell phones, Internet, open source software, etc. He criticizes societies that resist these changes. He emphasizes the inevitability of a rapid pace of change and the extent to which emerging abilities of individuals and developing countries are creating many pressures on businesses and individuals in the United States; he has special advice for Americans and for the developing world (but says almost nothing about Europe). The flattening of the world makes possible complex supply chains based on value-added services, with products in all industries being increasingly leveraged through competitive commoditization and the possibility of using labor and services in emerging markets like India and China. Friedman's is a popular work based on much personal research, travel, conversation, and reflection. In his characteristic style, he combines in The World Is Flat conceptual analysis accessible to a broad public with personal anecdotes and opinions.

In a recent interview Friedman described the flattening of the world as:
What I mean when I say that the world is flat is that sometime in the late 1990s a whole set of technologies and political events converged--including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the Internet, the diffusion of the Windows operating system, the creation of a global fiber-optic network, and the creation of interoperable software applications, which made it very easy for people all over the world to work together--that leveled the playing field. It created a global platform that allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world. My book traces how that platform evolved and what it means for companies, countries, and individuals.

From the author website:
In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt.

Author Profile: Thomas L. Friendman

Thomas L. Friedman (born July 20, 1953) is a journalist, columnist and author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree and the World is Flat. He is currently working as an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times. His columns, concentrating mainly on foreign affairs, appear in the Op-Ed page on Wednesdays and Fridays. Friedman is known for advocating a compromise peace between Israel and the Palestinians, modernization of the Arab world and globalization, while sometimes remarking on their potential pitfalls. His books address various aspects of international politics, from a centrist, neoliberal perspective on the political spectrum. Because of his writings, he has been called "technology-obsessed".

n addition to his writings, Friedman has also hosted several documentaries for the Discovery Channel from various locations around the world. In "Straddling the Fence" (2003), he visited the West Bank and spoke to Israelis and Palestinians about the Israeli security fence and its impact on their lives. Also in 2003, "Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: Searching for the Roots of 9-11" aired on the Discovery Times Channel. This program investigated the reason for Muslim hatred of the United States, and how the Sept. 11th attacks in New York, Pennslyvania, and The Pentagon were viewed in the Muslim world. In "The Other Side of Outsourcing" (2004), he visited a call center in Bangalore, interviewing the young Indians working there, and then travelled to an impoverished rural part of India, where he debated the pros and cons of globalization with locals (this trip spawned his eventual bestselling book "The World is Flat"). In "Does Europe Hate Us?" (2005), he travelled through Britain, France and Germany, talking with academics, journalists, students, young Muslims and others about the nature of the strained relationship between Europe and the United States. Source: Wikipedia.

Friedman's recent columns can be read here.

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