Online Study Guide: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman|
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ONLINE BOOK SUMMARY FOR THE WORLD IS FLAT
Friedman explores further. He talks with a woman in Salt Lake City who works
for JetBlue airline from her home office. In Iraq, Friedman witnesses
how the military has been “flattened” through the use of computer technology:
low-level officers and enlisted men now have access to sensitive information
and can make important decisions. Back home in Bethesda, Maryland Friedman
continues to be shocked by world-flattening trends--in three states there
are McDonald’s restaurants that take customers’ orders via a call center
in Colorado; American students can be tutored by people in India through
the Internet. In Washington D.C., where Friedman has an office, he learns
the U.S. made a trade agreement with Oman by using a flat-screen television
and that reporters writing for the Internet can use low-cost technology
to reach a large, interactive audience.
In chapter two, Friedman argues that there are primarily ten forces that flattened
the world. He describes each force. The first flattener is, 11/9/89, the
fall of the Berlin Wall. Friedman argues that this event “flattened alternatives
to free-market capitalism” and unlocked “pent-up energies of hundreds
of millions of people in places like India, Brazil, China, and the former
Soviet Empire” (53). Perhaps more importantly, the fall of the Berlin
Wall allowed for the concept of the world as a single market, for the
notion of global (not Eastern or Western) policy. After 11/9 (Friedman’s
play on 9/11), knowledge could flow more freely, including economic policies.
The second flattener is 8/9/95, or the date that Netscape went public. Essentially
Friedman describes two phases in Internet and World Wide Web technology,
which he differentiates. The Internet (which connects computers) and the
Web (which houses information) came together to connect people, globally.
The first phase, “the Apple-PC-Windows phase” allowed individuals to interact
with a contained network, such as a group of people sharing an office.
The second phase, “the Internet-e-mail-browser phase” allowed anyone with
this technology to interact with anyone else who had the same technology.
The third flattener is work flow software. Friedman describes the advent of
work flow software as a quiet revolution that no one realized was happening;
it became effective in the mid-1990s. Work flow software allowed more
people to collaborate within and between businesses and continents, at
a faster pace than ever before. For these separate entities to communicate
they needed interoperable software; this became possible with the rise
of standards. Web-standards such as XML, HTML, HTTP, and SOAP eliminated
the “Tower of Babel” roadblock and allowed everyone to speak the same
The fourth flattener is uploading. Uploading allows individuals or communities
to put information on the Web. The flat-world platform has allowed these
individuals and communities to produce “really complex things” with much
less hierarchy and money than before. Friedman explores three examples
of uploading: community-developed software, wikipedia, and blogging/ podcasting.
Friedman argues that uploading appeals to a basic human need to participate
and be heard; thus, of the ten flatteners, uploading has the potential
to be the most disruptive. Currently, the number of uploaders is relatively
small. However, Friedman believes that as more people get positive feedback,
uploading will grow faster and “every big institution or hierarchical
structure will feel its effects.”
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. 09 May 2017