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The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century Paperback – July 24, 2007
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Captivating . . . an enthralling read. To his great credit, Friedman embraces much of his flat world's complexity, and his reporting brings to vibrant life some beguiling characters and trends. . . . [The World is Flat] is also more lively, provocative, and sophisticated than the overwhelming bulk of foreign policy commentary these days. We've no real idea how the twenty-first century's history will unfold, but this terrifically stimulating book will certainly inspire readers to start thinking it all through.” ―Warren Bass, The Washington Post
“Nicely sums up the explosion of digital-technology advances during the past fifteen years and places the phenomenon in its global context. . . . Friedman never shrinks from the biggest problems and the thorniest issues.” ―Paul Magnusson, BusinessWeek
“[This book's] insight is true and deeply important. . . . The metaphor of a flat world, used by Friedman to describe the next phase of globalization, is ingenious.” ―Fareed Zakaria, The New York Times Book Review (front cover review)
“A brilliant, instantly clarifying metaphor for the latest, arguably the most profound conceptual mega-shift to rock the world in living memory.” ―David Ticoll, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“No one today chronicles global shifts in simple and practical terms quite like Friedman. He plucks insights from his travels and the published press that can leave you spinning like a top. Or rather, a pancake.” ―Clayton Jones, The Christian Science Monitor
“[The World is Flat] is filled with the kind of close reporting and intimate yet accessible analysis that have been hard to come by. Add in Friedman's winning first-person interjections and masterful use of strategic wonksterisms, and this book should end up on the front seats of quite a few Lexuses and SUVs of all stripes.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Thomas L. Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times, where he serves as the foreign affairs columnist. He is the author of three previous books, all of them bestsellers: From Beirut to Jerusalem, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction; The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization; and Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. In 2005 The World Is Flat was given the first Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, and Friedman was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.
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In contrast with many futurology books that predict how the world and our lives will be transformed in the future, The World is Flat talks about not some distant future but about what has already been happening in recent history, today and the likely future trends. Yet as he explains many people are still not aware of what is happening although they may significantly be affected by it. Thomas Friedman uses the analogy " the flattening of the world " for the ongoing transformation of the relationships between people ; business, consumption, politics, economy and educational relationships both at domestic and international levels are being rearranged such that the vertical hierarchy that has been the characteristic of these relationships for centuries are flattening out. This is not a conspiracy nor a deliberate policy of any government or any organization. It is the inevitable consequence of the advances in technology, particularly digital communication technology.
This book titled The World Is Flat explains many things some of which we may perhaps already know, but it puts them all together and makes the unaware individual aware of the meaning of the changes taking place around him/ her at a breathtaking pace, what the individual, the businesses, governments around the world must do to seize the arising opportunities, minimize and manage the resulting threats. Thomas Friedman also explains how a great part of the populations in the backward regions of the world are left out of this process that he calls the flattening of the world. In fact, he lists this exclusion of the great masses from this process as one of the threats to the continuability of the process : he does not take the continuation of the flatening process for granted ; according to the author there are several major risks that could slow down or even completely stop the world flattening process for good ; 1) if a nuclear war breaks out anywhere in the world such as between India and Pakistan or North Korea and Japan 2 ) if a big terrorist attack similar to the one made onto the USA on September 11th 2000 occurs again 3 ) the continuation of exclusion of major backward populations around the world from the world flattening / globalization at individual level. Because such catastrophic events would cause countries to set up protective and permanent barriers against each other terminating globalization and flattening trends.
According to the author among the world flattening processes that have been going on for several years are the outsourcing of many jobs that are suitable to be digitized and electronically transmitted to anywhere in the world where they can be performed more cheaply and efficiently than locally. Until recently, people had to migrate to many countries to get various jobs. While that process still continues many jobs that can be transmitted digitally and electronially now go to the people ( are outsourced ) whereever in the world they maybe instead of people going to the jobs. This creates high paying job opportunities for people who are wise and prepared to take advantage of this and unemployment for people who want to continue holding on in the old way to their jobs which have been digitized and shipped to somewhere on the globe. The individual may be at bay from this risk by acquiring the necessary skills and being the recepient of the outsourced job that previously was performed within a company or by specializing in a skill that is not digitizable and transmittable electronically such as being a famous artist etc. People had better educate themselves in the proper way to adapt and seize the opprtunities or be victims of these transformations.
Another world flattenning event is the new power of the individual to upload articles, videos etc. on the internet and thereby assert his/her personal contribution as never before possible. An example he gives is what I am doing right now ; uploading my review of the book the World is Flat onto the Amazon website for many potential customers like you to read. In the beginning individuals used the internet to download only. Recently it has become a two way process ; uploading and downloading. So what ? well this is creating opportunities for the individual as never before. Please read the details from the book, otherwise I would have to write the whole book here. As examples to these that Friedman gives are the websites such as Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, Youtube ; the video sharing website, Amazon ; where I am currently sharing with you my opinion about a book I purchased and read ; ebay the auction trade website etc. I am surprised however that he does not mention Limewire ; the file sharing website and freely downloadable software on the internet through which people can download, upload and share many songs etc. I know he can not talk about everything but Limewire is no less significant than the examples he gives.
Another criticism I have is that too much, about 80 % of Thomas Friedman's examples and explanations are from India. He does talk about what is happening in many countries but India dominates too much of his book. No doubt he knows a lot about India and what is happening there affects both India and the world but still I think the effect of India on the world is exaggerated.
I am also uncomfortable with the title of the book and the analogy : The World is Flat. The main theme of the book as explained above is the transformation of the many aspects of the human relationships due to the advances in digital communication technology, the opportunities and risks thereby arising, what must be done at individual and governmental levels around the world to exploit the opportunities and manage the risks, how the educational system especially in the USA must be reformed to prepare the individual and the society to these opportunities and risks. I see no need to label these transformations as a " flattenning of the world ". OK vertical hierarchies in the work world may become more horizontal as a result but still the main idea could have been explained under a much more appropriate heading.
The bottom line is that a serious and effective education is a necessity for survival and adaptation to our present world as it becomes "flatter and flatter". Thomas Friedman has clearly and brilliantly depicted this ongoing trend as it affects our present lives. Anyone,any state or nation resilient to these ongoing inevitable changes will be engulfed by a cloud of obsolescence which will sadly lead to their deterioration.
I highly recommend this very timely book to everyone interested in gaining more insight into what is going on around us and hopefully arm us with a better knowledge of how to cope with them. Probably it won't be out of sight to also suggest that a somewhat modified version but equally concise edition of this book be considered in a way made suitable for our younger readers of high school age to captivate their curiosity,imagination and motivation. For is it not plain common sense that a valuable asset of a country is their youth ,the forerunners of the future generation on whose intelligence and rationality that country will be preordained.
Definitely 5 stars for this remarkable work.
I experienced first-hand some of Friedman's sights in China and Mexico; guess its my fault I did not think to wire a book about it. The book is too long by half; his editor should have used a stronger hand. The stories concerning India are interesting. If you don't believe this stuff going in, I don't think Friedman is going to change your mind.