The NEO World is Flat - do you get IT?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 05/18/2005 - 23:45.

I'm worried about my country. I love America. I think it's the best
country in the world. But I also think we're not tending to our sauce.
I believe that we are in what Shirley Ann Jackson [president of
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute] calls a "quiet crisis." If we don't
change course now and buckle down in a flat world, the kind of
competition our kids will face will be intense and the social
implications of not repairing things will be enormous.

This reference from a Wired Magazine interview with Thomas L. Friedman, multiple pultzer-prize award winning foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and author of the new book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century speaks loud and clear about the brutal reality of globalization. Consider Friedman's explanation of what he means by "the world is flat":

I was in India interviewing Nandan Nilekani at Infosys. And he said to
me, "Tom, the playing field is being leveled." Indians and Chinese were
going to compete for work like never before, and Americans weren't
ready. I kept chewing over that phrase - the playing field is being
leveled - and then it hit me: Holy mackerel, the world is becoming
flat. Several technological and political forces have converged, and
that has produced a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for
multiple forms of collaboration without regard to geography or distance
- or soon, even language.

Realizing these realities have global and local implications, Friedman makes important points about globalization and antiglobalization.

I've been a critic of the antiglobalization movement, and they've been
a critic of me, but the one thing I respect about the movement is their
authentic energy. These are not people who don't care about the world.
But if you want to direct your energy toward helping the poor, I
believe the best way is not throwing a stone through a McDonald's
window or protesting World Bank meetings. It's through local
governance. When you start to improve local governance, you improve
education, women's rights, transportation.

In a lecture broadcast on NPR on 05.18.05, Friedman explained people must respond to the flattening of the world by "horizontalizing", which means understanding the great levelers of our world today. As you read through the levelers listed below, consider have you horizontalized your life to function in a flat world, and has your community? Whether you answer yes or no, you should probably read The World is Flat.

The 10 Great Levelers

1. Fall of the Berlin Wall
The events of November 9, 1989, tilted the worldwide balance of power toward democracies and free markets.

2. Netscape IPO
The August 9, 1995, offering sparked massive investment in fiber-optic cables.

3. Work flow software
The rise of apps from PayPal to VPNs enabled faster, closer coordination among far-flung employees.

4. Open-sourcing
Self-organizing communities, à la Linux, launched a collaborative revolution.

5. Outsourcing
Migrating business functions to India saved money and a third world economy.

6. Offshoring
Contract manufacturing elevated China to economic prominence.

7. Supply-chaining
Robust networks of suppliers, retailers, and customers increased business efficiency. See Wal-Mart.

8. Insourcing
Logistics giants took control of customer supply chains, helping mom-and-pop shops go global. See UPS and FedEx.

9. In-forming
Power searching allowed everyone to use the Internet as a "personal supply chain of knowledge." See Google.

10. Wireless
Like "steroids," wireless technologies pumped up collaboration, making it mobile and personal.