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The World Is Flat

By danagalliz Dec 05, 2006 3081 Words
A book report of "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman

"The World Is Flat" a book by author Thomas L. Friedman discusses a brief history of the twenty-first century and its most recent impact on the US economic today and the world we live in. Friedman unfolds and identifies three major world wide events that explain he's philosophical explanation of why he thinks the "The World Is Flat" with the incorporation of his belief of the "Triple Convergence in 2000". Ten convoluted events of complementary ingredients were combined and lead to Friedman's meaning of the emerged of the triple convergence that reflects the level of our globalization economical state. While Thomas Friedman was on a project in Bangalore, India, in Silicon Valley completing a documentary for the Discovery Times Channel on "Out-Souring" in India. Friedman tells a story how he and a good friend, "Nandan Nilekani" (who is the CEO and owner of InfoSys.) stood for a moment together waiting for a crew to set up the film equipment, when Nilekani said to Tom "You Know, Tom, the playing field is being leveled and you, Americans, you're not ready". Afterwards, Thomas Friedman could not stop contemplating about what exactly "Nandan" was trying to convey. Friedman ponders his friend's comment for a short while and concludes that while many Americans were sleeping (basically in an osculating mode) the world was changing in exponential rates. Friedman concluded what "Nandan" was really trying to say was that the playing field is not being "leveled" but more so, flatten, thus, "The World Is Flat". Explaining how the global economic playing field that is being leveled off and we as Americans are not ready for its implications on the US and the economy of the entire world. Friedman explains how 10 ingredients, he calls "flatteners" which has inadvertently brought about a new global business environment.

The 1st flattener is the "Fall of the Berlin Wall", where Friedman explains how on 11/09/89 the Berlin Wall came down and exposed the continents into one globalize trading world. Friedman explains about six months after the "Berlin Wall Falling" the "Windows Operating System" computer chip exploded and launched the beginning era of internet PC revolution. He calls this era "The Fall of The Walls and the Rise of The Windows". Explaining how the "Wall" stood in the way of globalization. Six months after the Wall Fell the Windows Operating System 3.0 shifted and created a single graphical interface.

The 2nd flattener was the date 08/09/95 having an immense impact which I believe is a milestone in the history of our technology growth and its repercussions was when Netscape, a internet browser (which is a drop box that is illustrated on computer screens giving a outburst of availability to the internet's world wide web of information and created an open highway with no speed limits), went public. As Netscape became available to all people at their finger tips it played a key roll empowering individuals with massive amounts of information and helped commercialize and set open standards, equally facilitating all of the world's people with virtually the same chance of opportunities for growth. This phenomenon is greatly indicative to the remaining of Thomas Friedman's flatteners and their implications, good and bad, on human kind essentially defining what he meant with the statement: "The World Is Flat". The Netscape browser brought the internet to life and gave us the .com boom creating a bubble of wild crazy investments which facilitated the fiber optic boom. Friedman explains how an overinvestment of 1 trillion dollars in five years into fiber optic cable inadvertently connected the world through the internet.

Which lead us to the "Workflow Software", the 3rd flattener where all the software programs and standards that connect PCs with bands of cable to allow work to flow, such as Microsoft Word. These events fountain a technology revolution which virtually connected everyone's application to everyone else's application. Creating a new global platform where Friedman describes this era as a collaboration of platforms, flattening the world. This platform marks the end of a new beginning as Freidman describes "The Genesis Moment".

Freidman explains how this Genesis moment fueled a network connecting "people to people", "companies with companies", "people with companies" and "more people with more different places" and so. Thus, starts the emergence of Freidman's theory "The World Is Flat".

This new platform is based on a collaboration of the following six flatteners. Starting with the 4th flattener in which Friedman labels as "Outsourcing" was built around the "Y2K" fade. Outsourcing was the product of collaboration which allows departments of large companies to work out of State, and more so, to work out of our country. This collaboration aided companies to disaggregate a good proportion of their business processes and source it out to anywhere around the world at a lesser cost than it would have otherwise cost here in the US. Outsourcing gave way for companies to take advantage of high skilled laborers with low-cost wages, utilizing them as vehicles for companies to gain profits and develop an exponential boost of effective efficiency by tremendously improving their overall production and operations increasing profit margins. Although, many American companies probably did not stop to analyze the repercussions of their gains.

The 5th flattener is "Off Shoring", which is built around China joining the World Trade Organization. Off-shoring is taking an entire factory and physically moving it from the U.S. to a foreign country and integrating into global production operations. The 6th flattener is "Open-Sourcing" where the writing of "Linux" was created. Linux is a computer operating system program and is the biggest competitor's to Microsoft's operating system program. This new operating system "Linux" was created by a collaboration of computer scientists on the internet who demanded no money for their efforts allowing this free program to be downloaded by anyone who seeks it out. Linux is the biggest competitor to Microsoft whereby under cutting Microsoft, Friedman emphasis, how it would be hard to bet "zero". "Supply Chain" is the 7th flattener which is built around Wal-Mart, as Freidman stated, represents the construction of a hyper-efficient, down to the last atom of efficiency global supply chain of operations. Wal-Mart successfully capitalized on MIT (management information technology). An example is where as you take an item off a Wal-Mart shelf in one city, that item will immediately be in production in China. Surprisingly, Wal-Mart doesn't manufacture anything, but has successfully held itself as the biggest American retail company by innovation of a global supply chain to the last atom of efficiency. "In-Sourcing" is the 8th flattener. UPS, an express package delivery service company capitalized on in-sourcing by taking over internal logistics of companies such as Toshiba. This way of business is not an easy situation but can successfully be done by normal standardization company set-up where UPS will repair a broken item of Toshiba products. UPS virtually creates and operates a replication of Toshiba's repair center. Toshiba agrees to pay UPS to operate this repair services for their customers in which UPS delivers the repaired product back to the original customer where Toshiba never touch their own products. The 9th flattener is where Friedman describes as "Informing" examples are Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search engines. These informing tools allow you to collaborate yourself with unlimited amounts of data, information and resources. Informing is a way where we as individuals can collaborate ourselves with information.

The 10th flattener is what Friedman calls "Steroids". This is wireless technology, voice over the IP, and advances in computer microchips and storage capacity. He explains how Steroids basically turbo charge all nine of these new forms of collaboration and make it so you can now use anyone of these advances from anywhere through any device.

These ten flatteners complement each other and converged into a single global web enabled platform. Without plan these events of convergence overlapped and complemented each other, working together with multiple forms, melting any world's gaps and virtually bringing all people together closer than ever before. Friedman summarizes the flatteners by explaining how "three convergence of technology" makeup the 10 flatteners are as followed: •1st Convergence: Globalization 1.0: where the world changed from "Large to Medium" and the agent of this global change were through countries. Globalization 2.0: where the world changed from "Medium to Small" and the agent of this global change were through companies, markets and laborers. Globalization 3.0: where the world changed from "Small to Tiny" and the agent of this global change were not countries or companies but individuals and small groups.

Where individuals world wide, now have access and the ability to facilitate, embrace, and empower themselves individuality with any advancements they may desire. This global change has flattened the economic playing field geographically through time, distance and language providing the opportunities of capitalism and its byproduct is competition world wide for all people of the world. Essentially, this defines Thomas Friedman's meaning of "The World Is Flat". •2nd Convergence: The need for adaptation of our new flat world habits where resources, rather it be natural or synthetic, are more evenly distributed among all living people of the world therefore resulting in a negative amount of resources allocated for each American's average income level. Friedman tells a detailed personal story when he experienced the flatten world describing how he once lacked new information and therefore failed to take advantage of attaining his airplane flight boarding pass the night before starting at 12:01am. Other passengers took advantage and utilized their resource tool of new technology where customer service provided by Southwest Airline's internet wed site. Even thought other passengers on the same airline flight as Thomas Friedman was able to receive their airline boarding pass the night before the flight. Allowing the other passengers more free time before having to arrive at the airport and not having to stand in a waiting line. According the Friedman's writing, we as Americans would have to learn to view the world from a different perspective, understanding and accepting competition will increase and we may get less for our dollar in the near future. Friedman called this process where people will have to horizontalize themselves. He explains when the world goes flat the value increasing is not created vertically, in single sections or companies, but is increasingly created horizontally by who is collaborated with what companies, inside and outside your company and/or companies you buy from as consumers. People having to horizontalize them selves and to think very different about how we collaborate within firms and with other firms in order to reach new value creation. An example is when computers became available to the average consumer and businesses, people had to adapt to a very different workplace and work habits in order to collaborate with the new technology. •3rd Convergence: Freidman states the last convergence is since all of this globalize collaboration been accruing there was a massive quite perfect storm was being created "3-billion" people who were out of the game walked onto the playing field of trade and consumerism from China, India and the former Soviet Union. Freidman recognizes that approximately only 5% of those three billion people can plug in and play after calculating the numbers it turns outs to 150 million people which equal the size of the American workforce today. Freidman's main argument of his book is the triple convergence of the ten flatteners that are flattening the world, the convergence of a whole new way of doing business is much more horizontal rather vertical including three billion new players. In general, Thomas Friedman finalized his argument by emphasizing "the world is flat and I'm here to tell you that everything we called IT revolution these last 20 years, was just the warm-up act that has been the sharpening and the distribution of the tools of collaboration. Now you are going to see several billion people increasing quickly learn how to use and apply those tools across a whole new range and forms of collaboration".

I agree with much of Friedman's theories and the flatteners he chose to describe the extreme important impacts that affect our IT revolution world to at which the state it is in today. Freidman chose these events as milestone, where I would add emphasis on the importance of the sequential pattern of the flatteners' events in which they transpired. Much through pure chance the sequence of events our technology growth and it processes just fell into action, rather for better or for worst, it was bound to happen. And if you ask most Americans if they think we should have not had the opportunity in attaining these advance technology leaps, I would prognosticate that most people would not forgo these gains for anything less regardless of the repercussions.

I believe the most important flattener is 08/09/95 when Netscape went public because it opened an express highway of doors of opportunities with no speed limits, in my opinion, having one of the greatest technological improved impacts on human kind by immediately and direct changing our standard ways of living and increasingly potential capabilities. When Netscape became public it gave us a huge stepping stone of advancement connecting the people of the entire world to each other. This change gave way for all of the other leaps of events to unfold without such a change Friedman's other collaboration could not have taken place in the matter in which it did. This technology metamorphosis has allowed people to work from their homes, communicate to family members that are out of the country, and educate themselves with tons of information.

I agree with Friedman in that "learning to love learning" are important elements missing from our culture's view of education today. People must know that learning is never ending. There is always some skill or fact that is unknown that can be learned, but only if that person has a desire to learn. Even though children have the greatest opportunity to gain knowledge, many children do not take advantage of it. They should realize that learning is constant and that education is very powerful. Although I do not agree with Friedman in that "learning to love learning" is "most" important elements our society is missing from our culture's view of education. I believe first and foremost public schools from 1st grade all the way to BA degree with in a university should be facilitated and paid for all American children with governmental taxes. National health care and wage insurance can help people survive while they are unemployed.

Basically, we Americans should go back to the basics in that our society should enforce (good old fashion morals) basic conduct that reflects morals and respect utilizing integrity anything we do. The opposite is true in which we allow the media and forms of other public exposure to report stories with exaggerated facts and/or information that adversely affects our children's view of themselves and everything around them. Should we go back to basic traditional teaching where in the beginning of child's education building a strong foundation in our children's life incorporating strong work ethics including a strong sense of pride in the all work and accomplishments attain. I believe if these foundations are bestowed within our children's lives, the results will give them empowerment, enabling and encouraging our children in the right direction so that, when needed they can educate, empower, enable, and encourage themselves in becoming the most efficient individual collaboration. Understanding this way of life and incorporating these values within our daily lives utilization of fewer resources. Americans must acknowledge that we may have to learn to live with fewer luxuries and learn to be more conservative with natural resources but not necessary having to accept a weaker economy for the sake of it. There is a limited amount of natural resources available at any given time on earth and after these natural resources are evenly divided out per individual, the amount per individual is very small in size. Therefore, I do believe Americans should start adapting to new ways of living and consume fewer resources per individual.

Many people may agree with my belief that Thomas Friedman failed to emphasis, what I call "individual re-shapers" where Americans should re-evaluate (re-shaping) their morals, integrity, honor and trust and try to incorporate these ideas within the intra-structure of American families, public schools, public facilities, communities, cities, states, agencies, government, services, products and companies of the United States. If Americans would utilizes the same amount of time and investments, monetary and non-monetary, within our society moral values as whole and start new policies that will complement our global changes. These changes can initiate with my extremely important idea of "individual re-shapers" by developing and morally growing in a positive direction for the better good of all people around the world as a whole. Some "individual re-shapers" are technological advancements within public schools which is essential for success and may have exponentially increasing our standard of living and helped improved most Americans everyday life by starting with our children. Another "individual re-shapers" is restricting the media to mislead or avoid the real truth of WORLD NEWS and not allow political groups or public positions and agencies to utilize law suites and avoid addressing real society moral problems of the American people. This can facilitate our country to be effective in a continuous society that morally develops at a rate parallel to the repercussions of technologies developments. The most important knowledge I have acquired from Thomas Friedman's book "The World Is Flat" is the confirmation of my own personal beliefs as well as my personal career plans and professional development that incorporates and utilizes my code of honor and integrity in whatever I do in my life, rather it be a branch manager overseeing many employees, and/or a wife and mother (in which I believe is one of the hardest but important jobs a person can hold) raising children that reflecting the same, if not better, code of conduct in their life.

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