Background Thomas Friedman is a New York Times foreign affairs columnist, and he has written extensively about the Middle East and the globalization of business. He has won the Pulitzer Prize 3 times. He went with a crew to Bangalore, India to film a documentary, in February 2004. What he saw there, led him to writeThe World is Flat--Published in 2005. I read it in 2008, and it really woke me up.
Manufacturing to China, Services to India You could bring your U.S. tax return to a small CPA office in Iowa, and it could actually be done by an outsourced employee in India! If you have a CAT scan done in the middle of the night, chances are there will be no radiologist on duty. But there is one in India who is awake, and waiting to read the digital images sent overseas. There are “personal assistants” in India who will do a PowerPoint presentation for you overnight, including all the research! (This was not one of them.)
How is this possible? Starting about the year 2000, “there was a massive investment in technology, … when hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in putting broadband connectivity around the world, undersea cables, all those things.” (Friedman, p. 6) Also at this time, computers became cheaper, and more commonplace, worldwide. Software was invented like email, browsers, search engines; the WWW really exploded.
Friedman defines three phases of Globalization Globalization 1.0 : from 1492 to 1800. This was the age of exploration when Columbus and explorers like him, sailed the world, and people learned more about their world, through them.
Globalization 2.0 : from 1800 to 2000 Multinational companies grow the world’s industries like railroad, finance, telecommunications, etc. Due to advances in telecomm, including: fiber-optic cable, satellites, computers, and the early Internet The world got a little smaller still.
Globalization 3.0 With the Internet, Video-Conferencing, and advances in telephone technology, we learn more about each other every day. Traditional “barriers to entry” fall away. People can start businesses individually, and still reach large numbers of customers via the Internet. This phase of Globalization, is going to be very diverse. This phase will also happen at lightning speed.
This is the biggest Telecommunications story of our lives. If you haven’t heard of Friedman’s book, then you will remember hearing about it from me. Ten, twenty years from now, you will remember hearing about Globalization 3.0 from this presentation.
Fallen Barriers to Entry There are bloggers armed with computers, and cell phones (with built-in recording devices and cameras)—they are competing with the New York Times for readers. There are kids posting YouTube videos of themselves singing. They are recording music, and selling it on their own websites. Some are discovered that way by the corporate music industry.
The playing field is being leveled There are U.S. Military drone pilots who are conducting Middle East and Afghan operations from offices in Nevada. They are young men who have played video games their whole lives, and they are being promoted to the level of pilots who have spent years and years in training.
The field is leveled across nations Countries used to need infrastructure to compete globally. They needed roads, electricity, phone wires, many buildings, many workers. Now they need fewer buildings, fewer people, and with wireless towers: fewer wires! Someone can start a business in a developing nation with a computer and an internet connection.
Education is vital to the future of our country Our job is incredibly important right now. Educating the next generation is crucial not just because we should always do our best, but because : Our whole American way of life is at stake.
Not convinced yet? “China will invest more than 2.5 percent of GDP in research and development.” (Asia Society, p. 24) “…the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in the rates at which its young people graduate from secondary schools and move on to and graduate from higher education.” (Ibid, p.21) “Compared to other countries with advanced economies, the U.S. ranks about in the middle on direct assessments of skills and knowledge of eighth graders, and in none of the assessments does it place at top levels. In the U.S. about one-quarter of 15-year-olds fall into the lowest proficiency levels of skills and knowledge—a level that effectively excludes them from studies beyond high school. ” (Ibid, p.24)
Data from OECD Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is an organization of 30 member countries, including the United States. “According to the 2006 OECD data, the United States has fallen from 1st to 10th in the proportion of young adults with a high school degree or equivalent (including GED qualifications) — not because U.S. high school graduation rates dropped but because graduation rates rose so much faster elsewhere ....” (Schleicher, p. 1)
The Challenge “The challenge to the United States has just begun. Looking ahead to 2015, the U.S. proportion of the global talent pool will shrink even further as China and India, with their enormous populations, rapidly expand their secondary and higher education systems. Moreover, a larger proportion of these graduates will be in science and engineering.” (Asia Society, p.2)
Our future– think about it Our future is in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Americans should watch the documentary “Two Million Minutes” and think about it. It describes how India and China approach secondary education. We need to invent the next GREEN technology that the world needs. Thomas lays it out for us in his next book.
Hot, Flat,and Crowded The latest book of Thomas Friedman is titled above. "A compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress."--The Boston Globe (Williams, E9) "If Friedman's profile and verve take his message where it needs to be heard, into the boardrooms of America and beyond, that can only be good--for all our sakes."--The New York Times Book Review (Freedland, p.12) A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of the Year A BusinessweekBest Business Book of the Year A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
No I don’t work for him My readers will sense my passion for this topic. I don’t work for Thomas Friedman and have never met him. But you can see evidence of his ideas all around us. When was the last time you called some kind of call center and spoke to an American? If China does all our manufacturing now, and India can handle all our service industries, what is left for the U.S.? What is the next BIG THING? GREEN TECHNOLOGY.
Work Cited (2007). Learning in a Global Age: Knowledge and Skills for a Flat World. New York City: Asia Society. Freedland, J. (2008, October 5). Eco-nomics [Electronic version]. New York Times Book Review;, 12. Friedman, T. L. (2005). The World is Flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Schleicher, A., & Stewart, V. (2008). Learning from World-Class Schools. Educational Leadership, 66(2), 44-51. Retrieved from ERIC. Singer, P. (2009). Wired for War. New York City: Penguin Press HC, The. Williams, B. (2008, September 17). Warmly embracing clean energy [Electronic version]. Boston Globe, E9.