Friday, October 26, 2007

The World is Flat

New York Times foreign affairs correspondent Thomas L. Friendman wrote a best-selling book a couple of years ago entitled The World is Flat. In it, he analyzes the progress of globalization, looking particularly at the early twenty-first century. He contends that the world has been flattened by ten flatteners, things that allow both teams to play on an even field, giving both equal advantage. The second flattener that came along (in 1995) was the invention of Netscape when, as Wikepedia describes it, "the Internet broadened its audience from 'early adopters and geeks' who used the Web primarily as a communications medium to everyone from 5-year-olds to 85-year-olds.

Tonight, my life was enhanced greatly as I enjoyed a mini- concert by the orchestra that my niece plays in at her college. This is an 18 hour drive from here, and yet via the magic of the internet I heard and saw her play live without driving a mile. It was the coolest thing to be able to do that! Now, whenever she is involved in such a program, all I have to do is turn on my computer and check out the live streaming video coming from the college. A dozen years ago, I could not have done that. Certainly my parents could not have not done that years ago when my sisters and I were in college! Nor would they even have dreamed it possible in the future.

Another of Friedman's flatteners is what he calls uploading. Open source software, blogs, and Wikepedia are examples of communities that upload and collaborate on online projects. This is "the most disruptive force of all," he says.

Well, if all this is true, my personal world is a little flatter and a bit disrupted tonight. I'm watching my niece play while a good friends conducts her and the other orchestra members (several of which I know), and I'm blogging it to people I have never met face to face, but who are good cyber space friends.

I used to say "it's a small world" with real conviction because everywhere I've traveled (and by now it's more than 30 countries), I've found someone I know or someone who knows someone I know. Now, I can say "it's a flat world" with equal conviction. Who'd've thought it? Surely the ancient explorers are rolling over in their graves at those words!!!


Ruth said...

I found this book to be very thought-provoking and enlightening. Our world is changing at warp speed. I love live concerts with acoustic instruments. Streaming is not as good a being there!

Rondi said...

You're right about it not being as good as being there. It's not even close,soundwise. But it is definitely better than not seeing or hearing at all, as would be the case otherwise...