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The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – April 18, 2006
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What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.)
Friedman has embraced this flat world in his own work, continuing to report on his story after his book's release and releasing an unprecedented hardcover update of the book a year later with 100 pages of revised and expanded material. What's changed in a year? Some of the sections that opened eyes in the first edition--on China and India, for example, and the global supply chain--are largely unaltered. Instead, Friedman has more to say about what he now calls "uploading," the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. And in response to the pleas of many of his readers about how to survive the new flat world, he makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he thinks will be required to compete in the "New Middle" class. As before, Friedman tells his story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns know well, and he holds to a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't keep up with it. A year later, one can sense his rising impatience that our popular culture, and our political leaders, are not helping us keep pace. --Tom Nissley
Where Were You When the World Went Flat?
Thomas L. Friedman's reporter's curiosity and his ability to recognize the patterns behind the most complex global developments have made him one of the most entertaining and authoritative sources for information about the wider world we live in, both as the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times and as the author of landmark books like From Beirut to Jerusalem and The Lexus and the Olive Tree. They also make him an endlessly fascinating conversation partner, and we've now had the chance to talk to him about The World Is Flat twice. Read our original interview with him following the publication of the first edition of The World Is Flat to learn why there's almost no one from Washington, D.C., listed in the index of a book about the global economy, and what his one-plank platform for president would be. (Hint: his bumper stickers would say, "Can You Hear Me Now?")
And now you can listen to our second interview, in which he talks about the updates he's made in "The World Is Flat 2.0," including his response to parents who said to him, "Great, Mr. Friedman, I'm glad you told us the world is flat. Now what do I tell my kids?"
The Essential Tom Friedman !-- begin3pak -->
From Beirut to Jerusalem
The Lexus and the Olive Tree
Longitudes and Attitudes
From the Back Cover
• The reasons why the flattening of the world "will be seen in time as one of those fundamental shifts or inflection points, like Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, the rise of the nation-state, or the Industrial Revolution"
• An explanation of "uploading" as one of the ten forces that are flattening the world, as blogging, open-source software, pooled knowledge projects like Wikipedia, and podcasting enable individuals to bring their experiences and opinions to the whole world
• A mapping of the New Middle--the places and spaces in the flat world where
middle-class jobs will be found--and portraits of the character types who will find success as New Middlers
•An account of the qualities American parents and teachers need to cultivate in young people so that they will be able to thrive in the flat world
•A call for a government-led "geo-green" strategy to preserve the environment and natural resources
•An account of the "globalization of the local": how the flattening of the world is actually strengthening local and regional identities rather than homogenizing the world
Top Customer Reviews
Friedman's explanation is a simple one - the world has transformed from a three dimensional phenomenon, a sphere, to a two dimensional flat plane where there are no entry barriers into the labor market. So, a radiologist in Boston can be easily substituted for a radiologist in Bangalore. Oh, how it would be nice if it were this simple. But alas it is not. Friedman, I believe, is well intentioned, but he mistakenly believes that he can find the truth through anecdotes. So, his empirical evidence comes from stories of things that he does not understand instead of the use of reliable demographic and economic databases.
He believes that 10 exogenous forces can explain how "the world became flat." While doing this, he solely looks at the labor market and ignores the effects of the consumer, monetary, raw material/energy, and fixed investment markets. He cannot distinguish between a symptom and a cause.Read more ›
He claims, "When the world is flat, you can innovate without having to emigrate". But, how did the world `become flat'? Friedman suggest the trigger events were the collapse of communism, the dot-com bubble resulting in overinvestment in fiber-optic telecommunications, and the subsequent out-sourcing of engineers enlisted to fix the perceived Y2K problem.
Those events created an environment where products, services, and labor are cheaper. However, the West is now losing its strong-hold on economic dominance. Depending on if viewed from the eyes of a consumer or a producer - that's either good or bad, or a combination of both.
What is more sobering is Friedman's elaboration on Bill Gates' statement, "When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S.Read more ›
The book is very well-written, but Friedman fails to take into account the realities surrounding the fact that in order for such a system to work with any kind of sustainability it needs to create jobs to replace the ones that have been outsourced. Friedman's answer to this is that creativity and inventiveness will take the place of the grunt-work that's been outsourced, an idea that looks good on paper but fails to consider that our society's most financially successful businesses have never invented or innovated anything, instead relying on finding new ways to produce an existing product in a way that's cheaper and faster than their nearest competitor - thus fostering an environment that's not very conducive to innovation. The developers of new technology rarely if ever are the ones to reap the majority of financial benefit from its sale.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was disappointing. It wasn't about the flat earth theory at all.Published 2 months ago by Jane Staselavage
Great book. Has some nice insight into China and the new world economy.Published 5 months ago by Benjamin Solomon
Freidman argues that there are 10 forces that have made the world more interconnected, or 'Flattener's, making it more competitive in the process, and to serve as a warning to the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by J.Ilog
Love this book. Great book about the economy and great perspectivePublished 6 months ago by Coolray24
I didn't get through the entire book because I was arguing with the author while I was reading it. This is good book to take on vacation and debate with another person. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Holly
By now, Friedman's book has been well-publicized and its arguments dissected - basically, the book is about globalization and its effect on the world, but primarily through an... Read morePublished 7 months ago by katarinaism