In Part I, “How the World Became Flat,” Friedman visits India, where he realizes that the playing field has been leveled, meaning that a much larger group of people can compete for global knowledge. He pursues examples of this metaphor in other places, such as Iraq, China, Japan, and the United States. Friedman argues that there are primarily ten forces that flattened the world and describes each of the following “flatteners”: 11/9/89, the fall of the Berlin Wall; 8/9/95, or the date that Netscape went public; work flow software; uploading; outsourcing; offshoring; insourcing; in-forming; and the steroids. Next Friedman explores what he calls “the triple convergence,” or the way the ten flatteners converged to create an even flatter global playing field. The first convergence encompasses how the ten flatteners came together in such a way that they created a global, Web-enabled platform that allows for multiple forms of collaboration. The second convergence is the appearance of a set of business practices and skills that make the most of the ten flatteners, thus enhancing the flatteners’ potential. The third convergence is the entrance of some three billion people onto the playing field. The triple convergence is likely to cause some chaos and confusion. Friedman argues that “the great sorting out” will recalibrate the ceilings, walls, and floors that define us. Some questions that arise during the great sorting out are: what should be the relationship between companies and the communities in which they operate?; how do we navigate our multiple identities as consumers, employees, citizens, taxpayers, and shareholders?; who owns what, particularly in the case of intellectual property?
In Part II, “America and the Flat World,” Friedman begins by claiming that free trade is still in the United States’ best interest because as long as the “global pie” keeps growing--that is, as long as more people demand these goods and services, more people will be needed to produce