Hot Best Seller

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Availability: Ready to download

A timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq wa A timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this "flattening" of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. An expanded and revised version was published in hardcover in April 2006.


Compare

A timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq wa A timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this "flattening" of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists. An expanded and revised version was published in hardcover in April 2006.

30 review for The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I tried to plow through this book, but Thomas Friedman is the most brain-dead parrot of the ruling class I have ever known, so I couldn't finish it. His view of globalization is that now, thanks to the paternalistic global order constructed by US multinational corporations, there is cultural and monetary things of worth out there in the vast unexplored jungles of savagery called "not the United States." As an ahistorical text that ignores the fact that elites have been trading from Occident to an I tried to plow through this book, but Thomas Friedman is the most brain-dead parrot of the ruling class I have ever known, so I couldn't finish it. His view of globalization is that now, thanks to the paternalistic global order constructed by US multinational corporations, there is cultural and monetary things of worth out there in the vast unexplored jungles of savagery called "not the United States." As an ahistorical text that ignores the fact that elites have been trading from Occident to and from Orient for hundreds of years, the book ignores entirely the poor. How wonderful it is to be ruling class in this new era, where poor people from all over the world can service the rich like Friedman. What an asshole.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    An oldie but a goodie; this non-fiction book was popular a few years ago (2005). I read it then and took notes. By “flat” he means super-interconnected through technology, communications, trade, etc. Some notes: Ten forces that flattened the world: Removal of the Berlin Wall, 1989 The world wide web starting with Netscape Work flow software The ability to upload (local goes global) Outsourcing – you can run a million dollar business without a single employee Offshoring – tech guys overseas Supply chai An oldie but a goodie; this non-fiction book was popular a few years ago (2005). I read it then and took notes. By “flat” he means super-interconnected through technology, communications, trade, etc. Some notes: Ten forces that flattened the world: Removal of the Berlin Wall, 1989 The world wide web starting with Netscape Work flow software The ability to upload (local goes global) Outsourcing – you can run a million dollar business without a single employee Offshoring – tech guys overseas Supply chaining – aka “just-in-time delivery” so you don’t have to have money tied up in warehousing In-sourcing – UPS buys its own fleet of planes In-forming: Yahoo and Google search engines We’ve gone digital, mobile, personal and virtual The Triple Convergence that brought about the flat world: First, interconnecting of machines and techniques that had been around earlier leading to the fax, scanner and Xerox. (Of course invention is always like that – multiple people were working on the telephone with so many pieces lying around.) Second, the gradually increasing impact of computers; for years they did not actually reduce staff. Third, the gradual bringing of everyone worldwide into the game. Countries that want to benefit from flatness have to get three things right: Technological infrastructure to interact with the rest of the flat world Education and training Legal structure, taxation, intellectual property rights, etc. A good book and very readable. A bit long (almost 600 pages). photo from wallpaper-gallery.net

  3. 3 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The World is Not Flat Precis: A big project was started in the post-war world to let countries grow and prosper and compete without using wars to do so. That was the project of globalization. A sub- or lead-project under that was the European Union. Friedman’s famous book was the recent victory cry for the Globalization Project, a chest-thumping if ever there was one! However, any keen observer would by now have concluded that the project was riddled with flaws. But that is not to say that the vi The World is Not Flat Precis: A big project was started in the post-war world to let countries grow and prosper and compete without using wars to do so. That was the project of globalization. A sub- or lead-project under that was the European Union. Friedman’s famous book was the recent victory cry for the Globalization Project, a chest-thumping if ever there was one! However, any keen observer would by now have concluded that the project was riddled with flaws. But that is not to say that the vision itself was flawed. It might be a better argument to say that the flaws are more from the project being not fully carried-through than from the fact of its existence, as Stieglitz had argued eloquently in his critiques. In the video lecture below I use the crisis in the Eurozone to draw out some of the fundamental reasons why globalization has been winding along roads that lead nowhere, for quite some time. The concentrated nature of the Eurozone crisis and the fact that it is a rich-country problem, with all the proportional additional limelight allows us to see in that microcosm what half-baked globalization has done to the haves and have-nots among the nations of the world. And by examining that, it is hoped that we might also see that the solutions to globalization is perhaps not less but more of the dosage, undiluted. So, here, with a bit of shameless self-promotion, is the video. Please help me improve by sharing feedback! :) Caveat: The rest of this review wont make much sense without first watching the video… Detail: A single global market and complete economic integration would mean that the countries would be too tied in with each other to ever even consider further internecine warfare. Surely no one would be daft enough to compromise their own interest so badly. Solving the problems of a war-ridden world by uniting it through trade. That was right up the alley suggested by Adam Smith in his civilizing process. Maybe trade and interdependence will get the world to behave. That was the hope of the globalizing project that replaced mercantilist philosophy that preceded it. And if any part of the world had to race to be civilized, it had to be Europe whom Gandhi had ‘burn’ed famously with his quip. Hence the European Project was to be the front-runner, the trail-blazer, the avant-garde, etc. The video above is a lecture/discussion, wherein I argue that this European project was conceived as a roadmap to a fully integrated union that will replicate a US of A in Europe; and how the EU compromised on the tougher but necessary requirements of such a project and tried to get by with stop-gap solutions like convergence criteria and the like, which, in its turn, were not enforced. All this has led to a scenario which could derail not only the micro experiment (EU), but the macro experiment (Globalization) as well. The European consolidation project rushed into first economic and then a monetary union while never slowing down to implement any integrated Fiscal controls/transfers. This is also the case with much of the thrust of the globalization project with its emphasis on open trade and liberalizing capital flows across borders. It was understood from the beginning that this was going to be an issue, but it was hoped that it could be worked around. Imposing any sort of fiscal control was too anathema to be considered. It could easily be argued that any move in that direction would nip the project in the bud, with the nationalistic European Governments running away from any suggestion that dilutes sovereignty as much. An Overdose of Fiscal Discipline This meant that a lot of fiscal discipline was attempted, not by direct control but indirectly in the form of membership criteria. The focus on such fiscal rules had been justified by two beliefs: 1. That, inside a single currency union with a common exchange rate, monetary policy, interlinked interest rates and market integrated enough to cause contagion concerns, the fiscally irresponsible were less likely to be castigated by markets that might otherwise loose confidence and move away from investing in countries/currencies in danger of running into problems of high inflation or debt. 2. That such a country that got into trouble would not be able to devalue currency or adopt lose money policies, and would also not enjoy the sorts of automatic transfers that operate in federal countries. Then the only real option to absorb a shock would be greater borrowing by the government at the reduced interest rates available to them from market being lax… Clearly, focusing on debt-to-GDP figures and enforcing strict limits seemed the best way to overcome the problems of an EMU that is not a Federal union. Plenty of Gaps in Financial Regulation However, some of the gaps as far as Banking and Financial system was concerned was ignored for too long in all this concern for Fiscal discipline. The new unified market and banking system under the ECB that was being created could not be said to have any sort of full fledged monetary policy capacity since the ECB was not even given overall responsibility for bank supervision, which stayed at national level, an arrangement that has since been deemed unsatisfactory, with the planned “banking union” giving supervision of most large European banks to the ECB. It also had no obligation to act as the system’s lender of last resort nor was there any sort of deposit-insurance system that was instituted. Without a Central Bank’s capacity to conjure money out of thin air, the system was left with no one with the capacity and obligation to protect the banking system, the depositors and the sovereigns - a huge potential problem once it took over the operation of monetary policy from national central banks. Without these basic functions and powers how can a central bank truly regulate. What mechanism can it have? Moreover, the ECB’s one-size-fits-all interest rates (and exchange rates) is a one-size-fits-none arrangement - at the same time is might be too low for Germany and other strong economies and too high for weak Mediterranean countries like Greece with debt problems, or, at other times too low for overheating countries like Greece, but too high for Germany. The German domination over the ECB also meant that loose money policy, especially radical measures like a dose of American-style quantitative easing, was mostly anathema. Enforcement? What is that? Then to add on to these problems came laxity in enforcement: the fiscal criteria encapsulated in not-so-bad-ass sounding schemes like the “excessive deficit procedure,", stability and growth pact, etc. However, from the very beginning the rules against excessive deficits and public-debt levels were interpreted flexibly. And once Germany and France colluded to block any official rebuke or sanctions for letting their budget deficits rise above the Maastricht ceiling of 3% of GDP and rendered it toothless, the gutting of the Fiscal requirement were complete. From then on, so the story goes, all semblance of fiscal discipline was abandoned. All this meant that problems were only waiting to happen. And the relaxed entry of some of the mediterranean countries (one does not say no to Plato! :) ) helped precipitate this very fast. Greece: The Petri-Dish Case The circumstances that led to the Greek crisis, via the good pre-2008 times, and the way it was handled/botched is used as an example to show up some of these flaws and deficiencies and to highlight what needs to be done to make EU a success. The Blame Game It is argued that the blame should be placed on both: 1. those who created such a death trap of a currency union, to begin with, followed by the reckless borrowers and the irresponsible lenders of the first decade of EMU 2. the lax policy response later from the ECB, IMF and the stronger nations of the EU who could have limited the fallout but failed to act decisively. It is true that the  deficit countries used the low interest rates unproductively and profligately. Not to mention the fact that the complacent financial markets utterly failed in their allocation of credit and calculations of risk. Getting markets to impose discipline on governments had been one reason for enshrining the no-bail-out rule and forbidding the ECB from monetizing government debt. But this plan didn’t take into account the irrationality of markets flush with overconfidence and easy money in the pre-2008 global economy Discipline the Markets! Greece was plainly bankrupt. Its debt should have been cut early and decisively rather than late and messily, thereby giving private creditors the chance to dump Greek bonds. The losses would thus fall on those that lent the money to uncreditworthy countries. This would have hurt the bad lenders early and made them more wary of speculation (contaminated by plenty of moral hazard!). It is important to enforce discipline on the rogue elements of the markets first if you expect markets to enforce discipline on the sovereigns, whether it be in the local pond of the European bond market or the larger international waters where the sharky portfolio investors hunt. The Austerity Question And finally, the bail-outs (of the lenders more than the borrowers in many ways) made the mistake of enforcing procyclcical austerity measures only worsening the recessionary impact of the economic cycle and plunging Greece further into the debt trap. With no functional monetary policy and toothless fiscal policy (once lending capacity was compromised), Greece had no options but to keep accepting the loans and the conditions. The Dark Future of Grexit After this, a few future options for Greece are discussed including the specter of Grexit. Even if it may seem so today, it unlikely that the EU’s single market would survive the domino-effect-led implosion, and it would probably be followed by capital controls, trade barriers and, possibly, a return to world of mercantilism! Avoiding the Doomsday; Preventing Radicalism How to avoid such a scenario? It would require straightening the accountability and safety in the financial system, as is already in the works with talks of a “banking union. But what is also needed are the basics of a federal budgeting process that provides public goods and redistributes income between rich and poor citizens (and states). The EU has a tiny budget, no power of taxation and no powers to borrow. And the eurozone has no budget at all, even a modest one, that could make transfers when countries suffer a downturn in the form of unemployment insurances, etc. This would protect countries hit by the flaws of EU to escape the worst of the problems that afflict its citizens such as high unemployment. This would then allow protection against the kind of civil unrest that took place in Greece. Besides, it would also prevent the easy radicalization of politics that happen in countries where the citizens have to endure clear and present hardship even as neighboring nationals seem to living in prosperity. Slow growth and high unemployment have been radicalizing politics and intensifying rejection of both national and European politicians. So the next crisis may well be political. Anti-EU, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment parties of all colors are on the rise. Only a EU-level budget to protect the losers of “globalization” can help fight this tendency that can easily lead to protectionism across the weaker economies and thus soon among the stronger economies. Intrusive Economics Instead of these steps, the “economic governance” created in recent years is a soup of incomprehensible jargon: six-pack, two-pack, fiscal compact, Euro Plus Pact, European semester, annual growth survey, excessive deficit procedure, macroeconomic imbalances procedure, “contractual arrangements” for reform, and much more. All this amounts to an unprecedented intrusion by an unaccountable EU bureaucracy that satisfies nobody! Just as in the case of globalization, the nations on the periphery are more and more afraid that the run of the core economic system is being run by the in-countries and their institutions: that increasingly the European Union and the euro zone are deciding matters without sufficient democratic control. As the eurozone (or the western world with respect to globalization) integrates further and more intrusively, it is running into a huge potential row about the legitimacy and democratic accountability of its actions. Indeed, it is this, rather than the financial markets, that could pose one of the biggest risks to the EU’s future. As we can see the same concerns are present if we examine the international institutions such as WTO, IMF and the United Nations. The intrusions are inevitable and lack of democratic control only precipitates fear and distrust from the out-group countries, which happen to be most of the world! The eurozone’s financial system was sufficiently integrated to spread contagion, but not integrated enough to provide resilience. It has no central budget or other means of absorbing asymmetric shocks that hit one or two countries disproportionately. Hence, when the crisis hit, the euro zone had no means of giving assistance to countries that got into trouble. A bit of imagination should suffice to see how each of these conditions of integrated markets, contagion and no resilience applies to the globalized international markets as well. Greece paid a disproportionate price of the US’ regulatorial slackness and the 2008 crisis, so did many others across the globe. There was no system to make sure that they were protected in some manner. The markets are irrational and the international institutional system is built on a willful ignorance of this fact. We cannot have true globalization with only markets running it, just like couldn’t have had any sort of true democracy if it was merely laissez-faire that guaranteed it. Global Federalism…? The eurozone and the globalizing world should look to the United States and ask itself: why does the prospect of default by one state not call into question the existence of the dollar? The short answer is that the United States is a single federal country, while the euro zone is a much looser confederation of sovereign countries who are willing to contaminate one another, but not willing to help one another out. Europe’s real folly and the folly of the globalization project as a whole was not to look for the gains from opening up of trade, financial integration, exchange-rate stability and economic efficiency, even if they might have been overstated. The madness was to believe that these benefits could be obtained on the cheap, without the political constraints, economic flexibility, financial transfers and risk-sharing mechanisms of genuine integrated markets, i.e., federations. Clearly the answer is in some sort of Federalism, not only for the Eurozone, but also for the world? And it is worth building, and fast! After all, Europe’s (and globalization’s) malaise is not one that time alone can heal. Delay is likely to make things worse, not better. Even if the the financial panic is kept in abeyance, the economic and political crises may well deepen. Right now the political momentum is towards fragmentation, not integration. Unless the euro zone (and by extending the argument the globalized world economy) is redesigned with greater determination, in particular through greater risk-sharing, it is unlikely to recover economic vitality. And unless the euro (and globalization) can be shown to deliver prosperity and well-being, public support for the EU Project (and the Globalization Project) will inexorably ebb away. The eurozone crisis has the potential to destroy the European project. Something of great value may thus be lost through carelessness or timidity. The Grecian Prod But on the other hand it also has the potential to prod Europe and the broader world into quickened action to make sure that economic integration is attended by fiscal safety-nets and fast reductions in the accumulating democratic deficit with respect to the institutions that govern that economic integration. The hope is that this realization and the prod for quicker action can be had from the high profile case of Greece where most of the flaws and the urgent reforms have been highlighted. Hopefully Europe will stop finding its way gradually like a blind man stumbling form one wrong turn and crisis to another before stumbling on the right room and instead sit down and chart out a roadmap for the destination it really wants to reach. The steps to this are laid out as first having a system of transfer in place, via ECB first by making it a lender of last resort and then moving to a more integrated fiscal union and eventually a political union by the gradual addition of democratic accountability. A dreamy euro-federalist vision is thus put forth, and it is hoped that it does not bring forth much derision from the realist among the viewers! All this can thus be connected back to the idea of globalization with a hope that eventually we might achieve similar results for the world as a whole. In short, the euro-federalist dream is extended to include another dreamy hope that the nation state system that was propagated by Europe, will hopefully be transcended by the same Europe. The EU experiment has much significance it the grander scheme of things on how the world will look like a century or so from now and the best sort of effort has to be made to make it work, even at the cost of some sovereignty or pride. The World is Not Flat And, one last thing: Before someone asks, “Why review this book for discussing all this?”, let me answer: Friedman argued that the world is flat — because of Globalization. However this whole argument would indicate that the world is not flat, because Globalization is not complete, it is not even past the first leg of the race. And the flattening of the world wont happen unless we aim for real globalization, unless the race is fully run, all the hurdles jumped. The world needs a lot more flattening to even out the very rough edges — the edges that cut all too easily. This is because flatness is not based on merely economic or trade considerations. It has to be based on democratic accountability, when clearly the international organizations are going to have an ever more intrusive role in national matters. If not the opposite would result — the nations would reject the international organizations and challenge their legitimacy. And the whole project depends on this legitimacy not being challenged. It could be that occasional prosperity might dampen the force of these questions, but in an integrated world crises will surely be more common and so will contagion, and then the only thing that can save the institutions and the whole globalized system is accountability and true democratic legitimacy. Globalization has to be built on democratization and not merely on ships or aviation fuel. That then was a bloated summary of a video which is in fact much simpler and non-technical. Again, pls do watch the video and let me know if it was fun. :)

  4. 3 out of 5

    Punk

    Non-Fiction. Friedman explains to us, over and over, how globalization has effectively turned the world into a very very small place -- I was okay with his metaphor of a flat world at first, but over time it started to irritate me. It's neither elegant nor practical. No matter how many virtual conference rooms you have, in a flat world it's still going to take forever to get material goods moved from China to the US, unlike our current round model; later he even starts to talk about how some par Non-Fiction. Friedman explains to us, over and over, how globalization has effectively turned the world into a very very small place -- I was okay with his metaphor of a flat world at first, but over time it started to irritate me. It's neither elegant nor practical. No matter how many virtual conference rooms you have, in a flat world it's still going to take forever to get material goods moved from China to the US, unlike our current round model; later he even starts to talk about how some parts of the world are unflat, ow, my head -- but still, his point remains: digitization, miniaturization, virtualization, and personalization have conspired to make our planet very small indeed, metaphorically speaking. For the most part, Friedman has a highly romanticized view of globalization, looking at it as more of a fascinating academic theory than a real force, and only talking to people who have benefited from the rampant outsourcing and supply-chaining. The first two thirds of this book suffer from a distinct lack of real world consequence. It's all happy anecdotes and economic theory, which isn't exactly Friedman's strong point. Because of this, it took me about six months to read, was constantly inspiring me to nap, and was just generally twice as long as it needed to be. Friedman makes up a lot of jargon -- going as far as to repurpose common words for his own oblique purposes -- and it can be difficult to remember what he's talking about at any given moment. The other problem is Friedman's scope and focus. When I read non-fiction, I like each chapter to have a thesis. Friedman prefers to wander up and down the page, make the same point several times, dump a lot of irrelevant statistics on me, and then scurry off to deliver a glancing blow to a new perspective, only to doggedly return to his original thrice-made point as if I hadn't gotten it the first two times. But, if you can make it through all that, cold hard reality shows up in the third act and things finally get interesting. Friedman admits that only .2% of Indians are employed in the technological industry he was so happily touting just a few chapters before. He admits that the world is not entirely flat, and that it may never become fully flat due to poverty, war, or simple fear. He talks about the ramifications of a flat world, the ways it can go wrong, how terrorist networks take advantage of the same readily available work force and supply chain that Dell or Infosys does. He takes the first two thirds of the book and puts it into context. This part I read in just three days. This is the part I can use. Globalization isn't just about Americans losing jobs. It's so much bigger than that. It's about the flow of information, about vulnerability and anger, about global responsibility. Those last hundred and fifty pages were worth struggling through the first three hundred, but only highlight how The World is Flat is more mishmash than structured thesis. This gets two stars for the first two-thirds of the book and four stars for the last third, giving it an average of three stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    "Fucking flat-earthers...Oh wait, that's not what he means? All right, maybe I'll read it." That was me about five or so years ago when friends kept insisting I read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Finally, when my wife recently bought tickets to a local Friedman talk, I resolved to read the damn thing. I'm glad I did. It's really good. I'm not saying it's prefect (I'll get to that in a minute), but this is a must read at least for a certain few people with their heads in the clouds. For one "Fucking flat-earthers...Oh wait, that's not what he means? All right, maybe I'll read it." That was me about five or so years ago when friends kept insisting I read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Finally, when my wife recently bought tickets to a local Friedman talk, I resolved to read the damn thing. I'm glad I did. It's really good. I'm not saying it's prefect (I'll get to that in a minute), but this is a must read at least for a certain few people with their heads in the clouds. For one, it's a great book for folks who don't understand what has happened since the advent of the internet. Give this as a gift to your dad or gramps. If they don't use it as a doorstop, they'll get a hell of an education on the modern ways of business and sociability. The other group of people that need to read this, or really any book like this, are those cretins who troll, lurk and spew upon the comment section of "news" articles online. Everybody seems to have an indisputable, unshakable opinion that they take for fact and which they feel the need to spray all over the internet. They are the modern version of every family's uncle from the good ol' days who would show up at family events and holidays seemingly for the sole purpose of annoying everyone else while starting an argument with another alpha male about politics, religion, economics and any other myriad of topics that most sane people know is off-limits around family and friends you wish to retain as such. The real crime in all this is that they don't usually know what the fuck they're talking about. They have one biased, uninformed talking point on whatever the subject is they'll let you hear it. So yes, I do feel like a book like this is helpful for a segment of the population, especially in these particularly stupid days in the American dark ages. The problem is, at 600+ pages, this book is 300 pages longer than it needs to be. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century is not brief. That's because it's written as a journalist would write a book. This is a book-length feature article. Friedman makes a statement, maybe backs it up with data, and then gives an example via a full-blown biography on a business or entrepreneur. It's all good stuff. Some of it's even enjoyable. But it's more than necessary for what's actually being said. He could've done more with less. I honestly doubt I would've gotten through this if I hadn't gone with the audiobook version and had a cubic buttload of yard work to do. Now, that's not to say didn't enjoy this or that I didn't get something out of it. I did. I am getting old and so some of these whippersnappers with their new fangled gadgets befuddle me. However, I did grow up in the age when personal computers were first coming into the home. I even had a Commodore 64, baby! So I'm not at a total loss in the computer age. On the other hand, I am a bit of a recluse and I'm not big into global politics and the economy, so sadly I am having to catch up on that and a book like this taught me a thing or two. So, let's call it a good stepping stone for the uninitiated.

  6. 3 out of 5

    Rick

    The first big mistake I made was deciding to buy the 2.0 edition of the book (updated and expanded). Redundancy is one of the book’s signature features so updating and expanding it only compounds the sins of this feature. My second big mistake was deciding to finish reading it after first running aground about half way through and taking a several month sabbatical to read more worthy books. All right I’m being testy. It wasn’t such a big mistake. Friedman is a smart guy but way too full of himse The first big mistake I made was deciding to buy the 2.0 edition of the book (updated and expanded). Redundancy is one of the book’s signature features so updating and expanding it only compounds the sins of this feature. My second big mistake was deciding to finish reading it after first running aground about half way through and taking a several month sabbatical to read more worthy books. All right I’m being testy. It wasn’t such a big mistake. Friedman is a smart guy but way too full of himself, the book’s title is sufficient evidence of that—The World Is Flat, too cute and not up to the belaboring it gets—and the false (on three fronts) humility of the subtitle. The book isn’t brief and it is not a history, nor is there any humility in the pretend irony of “A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century”. Indeed there is no humility in this book that isn’t a pretence designed to cast the author’s brilliance in finer relief. And the man thinks he is Adam set loose in a new conceptual world where he is entitled to name anything and everything. You can run out of fingers and toes, even if you borrow those of friends and family, counting the times Friedman begins a sentence or phrase with a variation of “something I like to call…” I don’t know in the whole history of publishing if there is a writer who claimed coining so many phrases, the majority of which are as pedestrian as they come. It’s not just “flat world” and the concept of “flattening” or “the coefficient of flatness,” it’s “Globalization 1.0” and it’s 2.0 and 3.0 descendents, it’s “In-forming”, it’s “glocalization,” it’s, oh, why go on. This book had all the makings of an outstanding essay or two or three very good Sunday Times magazine features. It’s got the trends in business, technology, and perhaps culture and politics right. It’s by turns inspiring, scary, and tediously bloated. It is a wearying, self-promotional exercise in over and over re-stating what’s became obvious twelve anecdotes and 34 declarations ago. The best part of the book and, for me, it’s only enduring redeeming value is its bookmark, a Valentine’s Day card, handmade by my fiancée. But I don’t think that came with everyone’s copy.

  7. 3 out of 5

    Matthew

    Detailed, thorough, and very informative. Friedman has a folksy style of journalism that brings complex business and social processes down to earth (though he also has an undue penchant for coining obnoxious phrases, like "glocalize" or "Islamo-Leninist"). Good for getting a grip on the major issues of globalization, including things that affect you every day and you probably know nothing about. But you have to read between the lines. Friedman is openly supportive of globalization, and his presen Detailed, thorough, and very informative. Friedman has a folksy style of journalism that brings complex business and social processes down to earth (though he also has an undue penchant for coining obnoxious phrases, like "glocalize" or "Islamo-Leninist"). Good for getting a grip on the major issues of globalization, including things that affect you every day and you probably know nothing about. But you have to read between the lines. Friedman is openly supportive of globalization, and his presentation is generally from a corporate-level perspective with only occasional sorties into the gritty realities of the people who suffer because of it. I find his excessive focus on globalization's winners--India and China--disingenuous and his almost complete lack of any reference to Latin America and Africa disturbing. I find it irritating that he fails to decode the euphemisms that his executive interviewees commonly use, such as Wal-Mart's CEO referring to its "low-cost business culture" (which means no healthcare for employees). He has far too much faith in the magical power of markets to solve problems, breezily dismisses most of the serious objections to the current trends, and refuses to take seriously the social and psychological, in addition to economic, effects of globalization. But that's my political bent; your mileage may vary. This book has two main problems unconnected to political philosophy. First, proponents of globalization, especially journalistic trendcasters, face an insoluble paradox. By their own accounts, what is happening right now is a drastic reorganization that is an order of magnitude larger than the Industrial Revolution, an order of magnitude faster, and accelerating all the time. Yet they talk about these revolutionary developments as if the changes can be managed by reformed healthcare and education policies. The Industrial Revolution was accompanied by massive dislocation, population migrations, revolutions, colonialism, wrenching poverty, industrialized total war, and so on. If globalization is really so huge and so fast, then pretending that the same--or worse--is not going to happen is just stupid. Second, Friedman talks a lot about nations like India, China, and the U.S. with detailed policy critiques and prescriptions, but he seems to miss the logical result of globalization: the death of the nation-state. The free flow of capital and the internationalization of labor pools means transnational corporations with more money and more power than governments, with no national loyalties to tie them down and no serious rivals except each other. The erosion of the nation-state, and the imagined communities upon which modern identities are based, is as revolutionary a phenomenon as its formation in the first place, and that will necessarily change everything. I fail to understand why Friedman does not see the implications of the processes that he describes. Anyhoo. It's worth reading, even if Friedman makes you as angry as he made me, because at the least it brings up some issues that people should really start thinking about more carefully.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Holy sh... this book went on and on. And on. The world is flat, oh yes! I see! But how flat is the world again, Mr. Friedman? Tell me once again, exactly how flat is it? Really flat? You don't say! Maybe it's just me being a grad student for too long, but I prefer my nonfiction books to have a list of references. Perhaps a footnote or two. But this book is just a series of anecdotes with some jargon thrown in (Bangalore...curiosity quotient...flatteners...in-forming...Bangalore...compassionate fl Holy sh... this book went on and on. And on. The world is flat, oh yes! I see! But how flat is the world again, Mr. Friedman? Tell me once again, exactly how flat is it? Really flat? You don't say! Maybe it's just me being a grad student for too long, but I prefer my nonfiction books to have a list of references. Perhaps a footnote or two. But this book is just a series of anecdotes with some jargon thrown in (Bangalore...curiosity quotient...flatteners...in-forming...Bangalore...compassionate flatism...glocalization...Bangalore). But that's apparently what he intended. If you made it to page 629 in the 2006 version (bonus flatness!), you might have noticed that Friedman approvingly quotes Stanley Fischer as saying that "one good example is worth a thousand theories." Uh, what? That doesn't make any sense. Freidman thinks so, though; this book is a thousand good examples that add up to a few coherent theories. Maybe the topic of globalization is just too broad to write concisely about, or maybe Friedman was looking at way too many trees rather than seeing the forest. But this book annoyed the hell out of me, and it only got worse as it went on. Not to say I wouldn't recommend it. I mean, read chapters 1-4, then just pick and choose what interests you in the middle, and then read 15-17 because those actually say something new. The book thoroughly covers globalization and the business world, and America's place in the new economy. It covers a lot of ground. And mostly, the ideas are great and well-founded. I did get a little squeamish at times, when Friedman's advocacy of free trade borders on trickle-down meritocratic patriotic Republicanisms. (See p. 496: "The inspirational power of a local business success story is incalculable: There is no greater motivator for the poor than looking at one of their own who makes it big and saying: "If she can do it, I can do it.'") But his heart is in the right place, I think. (See p. 265: "...a policy of free trade, while necessary, is not enough by itself. It must be accompanied by a focused domestic strategy aimed at upgrading the education of every American, so that he or she will be able to compete for the new jobs in a flat world.") I can agree with that. But really, if you're under 30 you need to read this book like you need a hole in the head. You've been living it. Go read a blog.

  9. 4 out of 5

    JC

    I consider myself a bit of a tech-nerd. I love any new technology that is designed to enhance my life. I can't imagine life before my cell phone, my iPod, and my mac. I love flat-panel monitors, digital cameras and satellite radio. As such I considered myself pretty up on the latest technological advances. After reading this book, I realized that not only is technology affecting my life more than I was aware, but it is also changing the way the whole world interacts. This book explains (in layme I consider myself a bit of a tech-nerd. I love any new technology that is designed to enhance my life. I can't imagine life before my cell phone, my iPod, and my mac. I love flat-panel monitors, digital cameras and satellite radio. As such I considered myself pretty up on the latest technological advances. After reading this book, I realized that not only is technology affecting my life more than I was aware, but it is also changing the way the whole world interacts. This book explains (in laymens terms I could understand) that technology is changing the world on an almost daily basis and only the nations that are able to keep up will be able to compete in the new economy. This book is entertaining AND enlightening in a way that I was completely engrossed from the first chapter. Thomas Friedman's writng style is intelligent yet non-condescending. I recommend this to anyone whether you're a techno-geek or if you're just curious about how UPS works or even if you're wondering who the heck you're speaking with when you call "Tech Support". This book should almost be required reading. P.S. I'm new to goodreads so i will have plenty more reviews to come. This is just one of my recent favorites!

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    Heads in the sand should read this book!: This began as a response to one of the harsh reviews previously posted, but I figured it'd be just as good as a counterbalance in the review section. Using an approach the layman can understand, Friedman chronicles an event which took place (the flattening of the world, so to speak) right under our noses. He gives an excellent overview of how globalization really HAS helped the world, and he does it via plenty of footnoted research into actual events tha Heads in the sand should read this book!: This began as a response to one of the harsh reviews previously posted, but I figured it'd be just as good as a counterbalance in the review section. Using an approach the layman can understand, Friedman chronicles an event which took place (the flattening of the world, so to speak) right under our noses. He gives an excellent overview of how globalization really HAS helped the world, and he does it via plenty of footnoted research into actual events that took place to get us to this point in history. Commerce (or consumption, if you'd rather) is, whether you like to admit it or not, the backbone of ALL successful societies (you know, the ones that aren't still tearing themselves apart over dark age religions and living in sandy hellholes). Sure, it comes with a price, but what doesn't? The fight to stem global warming will no doubt come with a price (higher priced hybrid cars and other associated costs of being "green"), but in the end, our descendants will live vastly different lives centuries from now because of it. I'm sure the Negative Nellies here would be the first people to point fingers at how little the people in Chinese factories are paid (especially in light of the recent toy scandals), but don't want to know what options they had before they had those supposedly "lousy" factory jobs. Oh, that's right, they had NO options. The very fact that Friedman addresses the dark side of globalization in the book (and in related audio programs and interviews he's done over the last year or more) should indicate that he's well aware of the fall-out, but knows it's inevitable AND surmountable as more and more countries develop a middle class, even if it's a middle class build on knock-offs like China's. But with higher standards being slowly forced upon them as an exporter, the benefit will be higher standards of living for their people, and less reliance on the bootleg. The forces are already in play to legitimize much of what Friedman has outlined in the book, and so much the better we'll all be for it. It's not about how much we can consume, although boy can we North Americans consume, and we wanted to do it for less money, and now look where all our manufacturing jobs have gone. But don't worry, there will always be an infrastructure in place in western countries, and while some business goes overseas, new business springs up. Even a service-based economy is still an economy. But now former third world countries and/or failed dictator states are finally being given the opportunity that they could not possibly have taken before due to doomed philosphies: they can begin to think globally and come out of the dark ages, where once the only "saviour" someone believed they needed was spoonfed to them from birth, but really only an internal salve against raging poverty and/or oppression. THAT's the only useful function of most religions and many political systems, but that's another book altogether. THIS book is about something that is too big to suddenly stop because we fear for future generations. Instead, we have to find ways to make what already works, work better, so that future generations from ALL walks of life and from ALL countries can partake in better economies, and freer societies. Loathe globalization all you want, but in this day and age, and probably for many more ages to come, COMMERCE will be the major way to guarantee progress. Goodness knows, politics and religion have tried and failed repeatedly, so why NOT let the marketplace dictate progress. It works, and it's flaws can be corrected, as they are in all good sciences; it just takes time. And, if you're bummed out, as "Casca" appears to be in another review, that you couldn't start your own airline, you've missed the point again. The point is that we now live in a world that's more connected than at any point in the history of mankind, and we're only going to become MORE connected as time goes on. If you have the capabilities of utilizing that connectivity to further your own business plans, creativity, social life, knowledge, you'd be a fool not to give it a try. Hell, even the terrorists have done it! It's not about running down to your bank for $100 million loans. It's about seeing the world, and your place in it-particularly if your business is BUSINESS and actually making a decent living-being made better with the technology that's at your fingertips. The one's who are sticking their heads in the sand are the ones who can't fathom that the world flattened, as Friedman says, while they were sleeping.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I made it through "A History of God" and "Absalom, Absalom!" but I could not make myself finish this book. I gave it six weeks and 350 pages, but in the end I couldn't take any more. Friedman's writing is at times brilliant: he is a master synthesizer, taking complicated economic, political, technological, and social phenomena and artfully explaining the connections between them all and what that means for the future of our world. I had to give this book three stars because I did learn a great d I made it through "A History of God" and "Absalom, Absalom!" but I could not make myself finish this book. I gave it six weeks and 350 pages, but in the end I couldn't take any more. Friedman's writing is at times brilliant: he is a master synthesizer, taking complicated economic, political, technological, and social phenomena and artfully explaining the connections between them all and what that means for the future of our world. I had to give this book three stars because I did learn a great deal. Though I can't speak for the second half of the book, he does an excellent job of telling the stories of Wal-Mart, of outsourcing in India, of China's rise, and so on. Because I work in the administrative side of higher education, I was especially appreciative of his perspective on the growing global competitiveness in education and the American educational failures that are only just beginning to show their effects. He has a real talent for taking all these stories out of their silos and blending them together to paint an exhaustingly comprehensive picture of globalization. Be warned: Friedman very obviously knows he's a talented writer and decides that gives him license to write a 600 plus page book that could have been 350. He inserts hundreds of personal anecdotes that quickly wore on my patience, especially the dozen or so where he feels the need to remind us repeatedly that his daughter Orly went to Yale (the fact that I remember her name tells you how many times it was mentioned). He also delights in cheesy, italicized repetitions of lines from his many interviews as well as painfully corny metaphors. I realize I've spent more of this review on process rather than product, but that's what is a real shame about this book. In theory, I think this is a must-read. In practice, I commend anyone who makes it all the way through. The all-important content suffers too much from Friedman's often irritating and always lengthy prose.

  12. 3 out of 5

    Patrick

    Friedman's basic thesis is that the internet revolution has shifted globalization from the era of multi-national companies to now accessible individuals, thus making the world citizens more egalitarian in terms of their opportunities. He cites the fall of the Berlin wall/communism as the first step in all this because geopolitically this made the world "whole" as well as the advent of personalized PC (Apple/microsoft-IBM) in which anyone can create their own content. The next step that happens i Friedman's basic thesis is that the internet revolution has shifted globalization from the era of multi-national companies to now accessible individuals, thus making the world citizens more egalitarian in terms of their opportunities. He cites the fall of the Berlin wall/communism as the first step in all this because geopolitically this made the world "whole" as well as the advent of personalized PC (Apple/microsoft-IBM) in which anyone can create their own content. The next step that happens is the wide availability of internet/www/fiberoptics that allowed individual content to be sent internationally but from the developing to the developed world and vice versa. Thirdly, the uploading (open-source revolution, blogging, podcasting) advent allowed anyone who wanted to be the author of their content to be an author and actually send it via internet all around the world. One thing that strikes me about what Friedman describes is the unintentional consequences that occurs from entrepreneurship/innovation. For example besides Reagan's military build up that caused the USSR to go bankrupt and thus fall; he cites the advent of personalized PC as anti-totalitarian mechanism that eventually brought the fall of communism because of the free speech that can be had anonymously and thus hard to suppress by the totalitarian propaganda machine. Also, he cites the rise of really cheap international communication from the tech bubble and the government telecommunication deregulations act of 1996, that led create oversupply fiberoptic cables, which when the demand did not materialize eventually led cheaper telecommunications for consumers. I found his thesis that bubbles are good for innovation an intriguing concept. According to his thesis, unrealistic bubbles causes a flood of money toward that overinvested sector to such an extent that it creates fast innovation from that sector. When the bubble eventually bursts, investors who invested in the bubble will get hurt but it creates such a cheap commodity that eventually consumers will benefit from it. The question now is does this extend to all sectors or is it true only for start-up sectors? That is, will we see innovation in real estate bubble akin to the tech bubble, if yes, I wonder what that would be? And if the bubble is good for innovation will Obama's financial regulation kill this spirit of innovation? Or will avoiding the pain that a bubble cause be good enough reason to have these regulation? Fifthly, Friedman describes the process of outsourcing from India secondary to the Y2K, tech bubble, tech crash that created the comfort level for India technological brain as well as the means to freely cash in on these brains via the fiber optic cheap communication lines. Sixthly, Friedman cites the fact that China has become fully a capitalist country by joining the WTO. Because China has the cheapest and most populace population in the world, they will be a target for cheap good manufacturing for decades to come. He states multi-nationals will definitely have to deal with China one way or another or they will be out of business. Friedman is optimistic that since China is now a capitalist country, democracy will surely follow. Just like any good globalization advocate, he cites off-shoring jobs to China really in the end is good for the US because the jobs oversees keeps jobs here. I think the US population really needs to be more highly skilled in the long run because it is clear from the business aspect of things that low-skill manufacturing jobs will by off-shored to China were the labor is cheaper and thus it is a big competitive advantage for multi-national firms to place them there. Seventhly, Friedman talks about Wal-mart and their hyper-efficient global supply chain, especially now that Walmart's computers can talk to their suppliers computers. It works like this whenever you buy something the bar code in the item talks to the computer and the walmarts computer automatically links to their suppliers globally to tell them to produce that item. He states that this is a flattener event because with a hyper-efficient global supply chain companies can now buy their products from the cheapest most reliable source anywhere in the world and get it to the market (Walmart). So this allows suppliers to be global in their reach. Eighthly, Friedman talks about UPS being the global supply chain manager for small to medium size business thereby allowing any company in the world to act as if it is a big multi-national firm with their own global supply chain. Firms sign up to UPS global supply chain and UPS does the global supply chain background for the company. Ninthly, Friedman talks about Googles push for global search engines that allows anyone from anywhere in the world to seek global information from anything in the world. What differentiates Google from other search engines is apparently it finds stuff that is more relevant to your particular search whereas prior to google the search were more haphazard. Also, advertisers can have more targeted audience based on your specific search. The downside to this is of course the lack of privacy since anyone can look up information on you anytime they want. It is therefore appropriate that reality-TV has now become the most watch TV there is because essentially people at this point are living in such an open society that there is no use hiding once information. Tenthly, Friedman talks about what is accelerating the flattening process. In his analysis, he points to VoIP, videoconferencing, digitization of all information, wireless capabilities, file-sharing all is making communication internationally so cheap that international business barriers are no virtually none existent. I think the coolest capability in this chapter was the wireless capability in having your wireless phone be your credit card, future ID card too. In his third chapter, Friedman talks about the three convergence of the world is flat. The first convergence is that all 10 forces have simply converged without prior planning it is as if it were a serendipitous moment occurred in 2000. The second convergence event change company culture from heirachial to much more collaborative nature. He hypothesize it is companies who innovate in using this new internet infrastructure in new and meaningful ways that will get ahead. Third convergence that he discovered is that awakening of pent up entrepreneurial yearnings from China, India, and former USSR that were hidden by communism/socialism of the past. Friedman's fourth chapter deals on what the flattening world means for "us" (government, companies, and individuals. He states that in this flattening world, multi-national companies no longer have loyalty to single country because they do business globally. So politicians in their effort to keep jobs homegrown will be at odds with multi-national business because they just want the cheapest source of labor. This is good for investors and capital in general because capital always seek to be more efficient in its use, but bad for labor. That is homegrown labor will lose out but not the companies that hire them. He cites Wal-mart versus Costco as an example of this confusing conundrum. Wal-mart seeks to flatten its labor to such an extent that it skimps on paying labor a decent wage and healthcare benefits. Although this is bad for Wal-mart employees, this is great for Wal-mart consumers (especially lower middle class), global supply chain, and most importantly it shareholders because their profit margins are high. Costco on the other hand, has half the profit margin of Walmart but they are fairer to their employees. But a lower profit margin, also means they have to cater their services to more middle class population instead of a lower middle class. The IP world also has to change because collaboration of the present means their is more than one corporation/individual who should get patented today. But although the flattening of the present is good for business, it proposes challenges for government, in that, who are we to support for America should we support small companies that are 100% home grown or should America support multi-nationals that only commits 50% of labor force at home but brings more profits in both for the company as well as giving consumers a break via a greater global supply chain as well as economies of scale? My answer to all of this quandaries is that innovation is the future of America with a large entrepreneurial force so government should foster the environment of innovation as best it can and let the innovators innovate. The labor that gets left behind in America will be for unique niches that can afford to be patriotic because that is what they are selling; but for the most part labor is dead and entrepreneurship is the new labor of the 21 century. But this also means that education in the US needs to be tops to compete with the world; but unlike India and China, I think experiential learning perhaps in the summer time is equally important to feed children's imagination. If we are to continue to be the innovators of the world, imagination needs to be fostered as well as the technical skill necessary to compete. And for kids, imagination really comes from a sense of play. The American 21st century really belongs to the right-brained people of the world. America and Free Trade - Even though the forces outsourcing and offshoring to India and China have arrived because of Free Trade, Friedman feels that David Ricardo thesis of comparative advantage still holds true. That is, Free Trade still allows the pie to increase. But the increasing pie is driven largely by knowledge workers who are innovative. They are the people who see the need in this ever increasing pie and plug the need. The one who will lose out will be the low-skilled laborers whose job will outsourced to India or offshored to China because they have thousands of low-skilled laborers. He cites the SEO (service engine optimizers as prime example of this trend). SEO have become and industry on to itself with the advent of google within the last 5 years. So who will and won't be effected in this new world? He cites three types of workers. The first type are the highly specialized and special workers who will not go away because they are needed (entertainers, brain and heart surgeons), the next type of worker has to do with people who work at the local level. There jobs are likely to stay put because they work locally ( servers, garbage collectors, dentist, physicians, nurses). The third type can be outsourced because they can be digitalized, automated so they can go to where it is the cheapest. So, he asked what kind of people will succeed in this new environment? The answer are people who like collaborate/orchestrate the diverse clients, global supply chain, and multi-ethnic workers, people who like to synthesize disparate information into new creative ideas, people who can explain complex products in a simplistic way, people who can leverage the power of technology to be more effective/efficient in their day to day dealings, people who can adapt their transferable skill from one project to the next, and people who are passionate about their jobs, and people who can use global platform to solve local issues. One thing that is good about this development is that one truly has to love what one does instead of ho-humming because only the person who breaths and lives his job is going to survive in this "new world". If I would advice my kids right now on what to do, I would say that you can be anyone you want to be you just need entrepreneurial skills to get there. Like, I said in my previous paragraph, this new world the "new m.c." are now entrepreneurs even if they are working for a company. They need to constantly challenge themselves to grow. Policy wise what does this mean? I think the US government should favor small and medium-size business more and more because this is where innovation occurs the most as well as jobs are usually going to be more local instead of international. The way I see it, it behooves multi-national firms to go international because it is the cheapest way for them to become more efficient and grow. The US government should be pro-innovation!!!!! Chapter seven deals with how we are going to get our kids ready for the new middle class. What kind of educational edge do kids of the future need to compete in this new middle class world. Since the right-brain kids will inherit this new kingdom, the most important trait is the desire to learn, passion about your chosen field and the innate curiosity to know more. According to Friedman, the US as a country is rightly poised to take advantage of this new world because, we have open and flexibility that is hard to duplicate by other countries. Specifically, we have the best research universities on earth and we have the most research universities on earth, we have the capital markets in the world in the NYSE and Nasdaq that reward companies on it who are the most innovative by infusion of cash as well as stringent IP laws to reward innovators who have products that the market wants. We also have amazing venture capital support for the most promising companies and flexible labor laws so the flow of labor goes to where it is needed. And last but not least, politically, the US is stable. So in the end the US has a high-trust environment in which risk-taking is encouraged. Chapter eight deals what is lacking in America right now the risks its position as the leader in innovation. He cites the US lacks highly skilled science and engineering students who make the backbone of technological innovation. The reason this is happening because it is no longer cool to be a scientist like it was during the NASA golden age as well American elementary schools lagging behind in math and science subjects. Besides lacking strength in the fundamentals, students now lack a work ethic/ a sense of delayed gratification to get ahead. There is apparently also a lack of basic research funding by the government and national internet infrastructure. There is also a growing gap between the best public schools and the worst public schools due to it largely being a product of propertty local taxes. I really am in favor a national reform in which education needs to be made competitive via school vouchers and charter schools instead of funding public schools that do not work. Chapter nine deals with the fixes he thinks the US should undertake to fix this issue which includes a political leadership the can galvanize the need for math and science workers, policy that encourages entrepreneurial transferable skill workers which include portable retirement plans, health care (done), govt subsidies to retrain low-wage earners in community colleges to prepare them to enter a more global competitive workforce. He also proposes to continue the US pro immigration policies toward people who are smart PhD so they can innovate and their kids can innovate in the US. He proposes that US corporation use their size advantages to be better stewards of society such as provide employees continuing education so their skills will be up-to-date and not stagnate and thus irrelevant in a flat society. Lasty, he asks parents to be more responsible toward their children in terms discipline and teaching them the value of delayed gratification. Chapter ten deals with developing countries and globalization. Friedman states that developing countries with the best chance to succeed in this new world need to be culturally tolerant and accepting of outside influences and change to what the world's best practices are. This is also the reason why the middle east will lag behind because it tends to insulate itself from "global best practices." The jobs are going to go where the best-educated workforce with the most competitive infrastructure and environment for creativity and supportive government are. Chapter eleven deals with successful companies need to do to stay successful in a globalized world. The first advice is to know its core competencies and focus on that only. Secondly, small companies and individuals should know and use technology to their full advantage so they can use it to compete with multi-national companies. Thirdly, big companies need to act small by allowing their customers to be active in the creation and production process that they will buy (self-directed customers). Fourthly, companies need to be able to collaborate with other companies in order to add value to what they are selling. Fifthly, companies need to outsource as part of their strategy anything that is not their core competency not simply to save money. Chapter twelve deals with the fact that globalization was first resisted because it was seen as Americanization of the world but with the advent of uploading via blogging and podcasting local cultural diversity can now be represented in the internet and satellite and thus be preserved and even exported internationally. The people who are most likely to take advantage of this phenomenon are people of the diaspora who left their countries in search of better opportunities abroad. Chapter thirteen deals with Friedman's theory of how global supply chain in the 21st century will be a deterrent to war (conflict prevention). Because countries with an extensive global supply chain whose economy is based on it, they will think twice in going to war and disrupt their economy and thus could act as a political instability in their own countries. This is the reason that I think China and the US will not go to war in the near future because our economies are too entertwined besides China does not want to forfeit all the money that we owe them. Friedman states examples 2002 India and Pakistan nuclear showdown that was eventually defused because India noticed that besides the more obvious nuclear threat of Pakistan, to go to war with Pakistan would have destroyed their IT economy. Another example that he cites is the detente that is occurring in Taiwan and China, due to their manufacturing global supply chain as well as their intertwined economies. But, countries that are not part of the global supply chain in the 21st century such as countries in the middle east and Africa. The reason Al-Quaeda is such a world threat is they are using the forces of globalization to create a Virtual Caliphate and are using small acts of terror to seem bigger than what it is by uploading it on to the internet as well as connecting small cells into a huge international network by recruiting, training, global donoring on the internet. These are people who are angry that though they are supposed to be superior due to their religion, they are way behind from the rest of the world. The key to fixing this issue is to get rid of the totalitarian regimes and somehow get these countries as part of the global supply chain. Friedman states that America needs to still be the beacon of hope to the world by remaining the optimistic dream machine that is our birthright. He states that the reason Bush was unpopular internationally was during his presidency he was seen as exporting fear not hope. For countries that are not part of the global supply chain, the key to keeping their populace from being terrorist is giving them dignity to be an individual that they see themselves ie: hope of success in their own countries. He states oil producing countries are the most undemocratic repressive regimes there is (Iran and Saudi Arabia). And perhaps world independence from nonrenewable energy is as much a green issue as a national security issue. Lastly, he prescribes that role models who have made it from disadvantage countries be more visible.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Timothy

    I think this book represents what is wrong with a generation of baby boomers. Aside from being verbose and arrogant, it presents obvious observations as a favor to the reader, as if the reader is nowhere near as enlightened as Thomas Friedman is. In the process, he manages to name-drop, and attempts to convince us all the world is better by outsourcing. Every turn of the page made my blood boil to a higher temperature, so after nearly 200 pages, I handed it to Tony and instructed him to sell it. I think this book represents what is wrong with a generation of baby boomers. Aside from being verbose and arrogant, it presents obvious observations as a favor to the reader, as if the reader is nowhere near as enlightened as Thomas Friedman is. In the process, he manages to name-drop, and attempts to convince us all the world is better by outsourcing. Every turn of the page made my blood boil to a higher temperature, so after nearly 200 pages, I handed it to Tony and instructed him to sell it. I have better things to do with my time.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Chris

    For those about to read this, I commend your bravery. “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century” is a non-fiction book regarding business, recent history concerning globalization and its implications in the Information Age, and current affairs pertaining to the resulting effect, which Friedman calls the ‘flattening of the world’. This compels me to warn you of the reasons this review will suck; I am not a celebrated (or even competent) book critic, I also do not read many business For those about to read this, I commend your bravery. “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century” is a non-fiction book regarding business, recent history concerning globalization and its implications in the Information Age, and current affairs pertaining to the resulting effect, which Friedman calls the ‘flattening of the world’. This compels me to warn you of the reasons this review will suck; I am not a celebrated (or even competent) book critic, I also do not read many business books, I am lacking computer knowledge and a general understanding of economic matters, and I’ve long since allowed my membership to the Flat Earth Society lapse. With such a high probability of failure here, you might be wondering why you should read this review. This much I think I am capable of, as this explanation panders to your interests; this review will be less than 10,000 characters in length, whereas “The World is Flat” will probably bore the tits off you for over 600 pages, all said, I’m trying to save you some time here. Also, throughout “The World is Flat” author Tommy Friedman will also confess to his own lacking credentials, which are almost identical to my own except for his repeated and humble confession he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, so he’s willing to tackle the important issue of the flattening of the world in a 600-page tome largely regarded as a masterpiece (presumably by people with no real world experience, who have just started their first job and have finally gotten some sort of hint about the way the business world works, or who are aspiring to land that first, comfy office job after graduating from the fast-food/retail minor leagues). To sum up this weak introduction, I’m hoping the three minutes you spend here save you hours down the road. Sure, I am a long-winded clown with nothing of significance to say, inspired to repeat my meaningless gibberish over and over ad infinitum. After reading “The World is Flat”, I can safely say that I can’t hold a candle to Tommy-Gun Friedman in terms of sheer ability to incessantly babble on about the same points; often, he not only beats a horse to death, but rolls it over, and eventually gives it what some have called the ‘dead horse’ treatment, unless, of course, the point he’s mulling over is firmly rooted in logic and runs counter to his beliefs, at which point he’ll quickly gloss over it and dismiss it by citing a far-fetched example which couldn’t be given any more credence than the ultimate exception to the rule. For anything which does manage to coexist with Friedman’s system of beliefs, he reiterates each point dozens of times (which of course makes it more legitimate through repetition) and also provides confirmation via his preferred method, a ‘proof is in the pudding’ real life example, complete with an exciting “holy shit!” conclusion to the story, such as “only in a flat world can a man in Omaha call a customer service center, and speak to an Indian about replacement parts being manufactured in Shanghai!” These testimonials to ‘the way things are’ appear to be little more than anecdotes which allow him to brag about leaders of industry he’s currently hobnobbing with, almost always due to the critical acclaim his previous book, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”, was awarded. To borrow Tommy’s style briefly, let me repeat: “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” (TLATOT, from now on) is his significant 1999 work which I don’t even feel I need to read, seeing as Friedman consults it heavily for material for “The World is Flat”. How do I know it was published in 1999, he even mentions this fact multiple times; if every reference to “TLATOT” was removed, the book would be about 20 pages shorter. Here’s a real example, taken directly from the book: “In 1999 I published a book on globalization called TLATOT. The phenomenon we call globalization was just taking off then, and TLATOT was one of the early attempts to put a frame around it. This book is not meant to replace TLATOT but rather to build on it and push the arguments forward as the world has evolved.” Reading the words “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” so many times was headache-inducing, akin to listening to a CD skipping, without the benefit of hearing one of your preferred bands kicking out the jams. None of this is very promising. What I find downright offensive in this book though, is the decision to include the word “history” in the title. When I want some history, I want facts, data, photo evidence, fossils, hell maybe even a few mathematic equations which somehow back your statement: I want truths, not bias. As far as this being a “history” of the 21st century, this book is a complete fucking failure. I can sum up Friedman’s historical account in one long, crappy sentence: “computer technology became big business and assisted every industry in reaching all corners of the globe, while changing the way everything was done and everyone’s life, and the goddam rotten Bush administration is screwing it all up.” This may or may not be true, but at the same time, for every issue which Friedman feels is impeding the stampeding march of technological advancement and globalization, he dumps the blame squarely on the front door of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Education is on the skids: Blame George Bush. Lagging economy: Ditto. Science/Tech research: George-Dub did it. Rising male impotence and shrinking penile girth: “W”s fault. For someone to present a book alluding to the representation of facts, I’d expect it to be less subjective, instead Friedman carries his bias to ridiculous lengths and basically looks like a novice with his ceaseless slander of the current regime. The slanted journalism is a major drawback, and Tommy’s maligning political entities appears to stop with the Bush Administration and the Republican party, as he quotes several “wise” Democrat congressmen throughout. Also deserving of Friedman’s praise (and thus that of an enlightened reader) are what he calls the 10 Flatteners (in a long-rambling 150 page dissection of events from the demise of the Berlin Wall to the outsourcing trend), Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and of course, Thomas Friedman. Yes, in this version of his work, cleverly given the Version 3.0 tag, Friedman shows he has no qualms with shamelessly soliciting praise for his work to include in this update; a great example being how two teachers continents apart were so inspired by his wisdom to create a virtual/‘flat’ classroom, and it should come to no shock that he Googled his masterpiece to see what public reaction was, only to be assured “many references are neutral or full of praise, others are vitriolic or flat-out nuts.” After reading this book, I am hoping that in Version 4.0 Friedman takes the time to congratulate himself by asserting his work is the Eleventh Flattener. I would be wrong to state there is nothing of interest in “The World is Flat”, however, it’s unfortunate that most of it comes at the beginning of the book, leaving the remaining 400 pages relatively pathetic and dedicated to Tom’s musings. While describing his 10 Flatteners, Friedman isn’t given as much opportunity to state his opinion as he is later, so he does focus more on hard facts. For someone who isn’t too computer savvy or overly interested in computers in general, the history of the Internet was surprisingly engrossing. The thing which resonated most with me was his evaluation of international trade and the modern supply chain, which isn’t too shocking seeing as I happen to be a logistician myself. While it is nice to see Friedman show proper respect to the badasses working in a supply chain capacity, it is somewhat nullified that at after any tidbit he learns, he pulls off the can-you-believe-it! schtick as an exclamation point. Still, even with the author giving thanks to the zombies slaving away in my profession, I found most of this book extremely difficult to digest; mainly due to Tom’s insistence to surround his opinions with facts, in an attempt to solidify their righteousness. And each one of these things “has always been his belief”; he must say that about 100 times, leading me to think not only must he not do a whole hell of a lot of listening to opposition opinions, but it also seems weird that for a guy who apparently just learned this item or the other, that’s he’s always had an stance on it. Some of the things he’s always been sure of: Unchecked, rampant capitalism is a godsend and the mother of invention, big government, regulation, and any political beliefs differing from his own will ultimately stop progress dead in its tracks. Getting rich quick off some online gimmick that serves no benefit to humanity is completely awesome, participants in internet sex of any sort are filthmongers and the scourge of the Information Age. But my biggest disagreement with his beliefs is in our world-view. Friedman is stoked that almost anyone, anywhere can no compete in business nowadays, as sees this trend as the salvation to the destitute masses globally. I couldn’t disagree more, I’m more of a ‘clean your own backyard first’ guy, I could never understand extending any sort of help to anyone without knowing that my peeps are taken care of first, and I’m not particularly fond of this change in the world, in which my peeps are pissing away any advantage we once had by spreading the peas too far on the plate. I see the culmination of Friedman’s principles resulting in the American middle class becoming the working poor, whereas his book concludes with his affirming and promising account of a Pulitzer Prize winner dropping his daughter off at an affluent university on a serene September day.

  15. 3 out of 5

    Arvind

    4.5/5 A fat 700 page book with a suspicious-looking title "The World is Flat". Often such books are repetitive, with the central idea behind hammered, often with selected datas and twisted interpretation to fit that one central idea. And often the anecdotes/stories can be stale. Not this one though ! This book by 3-time Pultizer prize winning author Friedman was an absolute joy to read. It is lucid, full of relevant and interesting anecdotes, a number of theories and in-depth explanation of cause 4.5/5 A fat 700 page book with a suspicious-looking title "The World is Flat". Often such books are repetitive, with the central idea behind hammered, often with selected datas and twisted interpretation to fit that one central idea. And often the anecdotes/stories can be stale. Not this one though ! This book by 3-time Pultizer prize winning author Friedman was an absolute joy to read. It is lucid, full of relevant and interesting anecdotes, a number of theories and in-depth explanation of causes and effects of globalisation. It offers a number of insights and a number of viewpoints. I consider myself well-read on a couple of sub-themes he touched and he was spot-on with his facts and insights. Amazing read. A great book to end the year with ! The 0.5 rating has been deducted as it was slightly repetitive while talking of how America should deal with globalisation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    This book does a good job of describing cataclysmic moments in recent history and how they have democratized everything from news delivery, employment and technology. The author combines interesting corporate tales with anecdotes to keep this tome from being a laborious read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Henry

    1. While Tom Friedman was in Bangalore, my family and I were in Delhi working with new leaders of campus ministries from India, Thailand, Nepal, Korea, Mexico, Kenya, and the USA. While Tom Friedman was busy writing for the New York Times, he claimed to have been sleeping or “otherwise engaged.” Well, his previous book the “Lexus and the Olive Tree” is what he claims led him off the trail of globalization. Friedman has reduced much of our previous discussion about Modernity to simple stratas of 1. While Tom Friedman was in Bangalore, my family and I were in Delhi working with new leaders of campus ministries from India, Thailand, Nepal, Korea, Mexico, Kenya, and the USA. While Tom Friedman was busy writing for the New York Times, he claimed to have been sleeping or “otherwise engaged.” Well, his previous book the “Lexus and the Olive Tree” is what he claims led him off the trail of globalization. Friedman has reduced much of our previous discussion about Modernity to simple stratas of globalization. Globalization 1.0 began with Columbus. Gobalization 2.0 began around 1800 led by the multinational companies searching for markets and labor. Global markets began, but now the forces that flatten the world, or “level the playing field”, have really begun to shape the destinies of all of us. 2. Major Dates at the End of 20th Century – The internet, e-commerce, and other forces have launched us into globalization 3.0. We have gone from small world to tiny. Now the major players are no longer multinational corporations, but every individual can now join the global competition and opportunities of the day. Now the West is no longer the great force in globalization; the forces that are flattening and shrinking the world are empowering individuals around the world, including those in remote and traditionally un-developed countries. 3. A friend and former Youth With A Mission staff person in Madison, WI returned from Chennai a few years ago with exciting vision for a new web development business. That business sells sites in the USA, but it has a back room with web designers in Chennai. This flattened world is readily available. My first web domain and site, www.haystack.org, was launched in 1995. The world has rapidly changed, and the capacity to communicate with my international team is easier and more accessible than ever before. Our next international committee meeting is next week with members gathering from India, Korea, Kenya, and five US states. The past four of our board meetings have been online with web conferencing software drawing together members from five US states. The world truly is flat and our ministry is getting on board with these technological changes as soon as they become available. In 2001, we had an international conference gathering people from S. Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt through simultaneous video conferencing for four days. Yes, we had difficulty, but with our minimal resources the conference did work much of the time where other major corporations with expansive resources had failed. 4. Today young people in Thailand or India has just as much opportunity to connect to this amazing new flat world, Globalization 3.0, and create new industries. It’s completely reasonable to believe that the next big technological advance will not come from a major international corporation, but from a young genius at an internet café in Malaysia or through an open source platform developed by two young computer programmers in Kenya. 5. The internet fever and the stock market boom created incredible optimism in telecom companies. Friedman said they didn’t consider the demand and they supplied the world with fiber-optic cables. The bubble burst, but the hardwire cables remained at pennies on the dollar. This crazy period changed the world with new flattened competition, only the result was more flattening than anyone imagined. The oversupply created price wars with a great boon to consumers. This flattening made competition even better, and broke down regional differences. 6. The failure of the 1996 telecom information act left many US households out of the loop. Businesses were wired, but homes were not in the US. India had a better access to the new information super-highway than did the average American. This is how Friedman points out how the flat world for those who get it right. If governments don’t get it right for their citizens, the flat world accessibility will put those citizens outside the realm of participation. 7. The world of communications and collaboration is changing fast and that presents us with unfrequented opportunities. But the train is leaving the station and we will need to run fast to catch it. Communication between individuals across cultural and geographic boundaries has become easy. Friendships, partnerships, ministry, and prayer can be sustained to some degree through this new flat world. 8. The good news is that technology has opened new vistas of communication and broken down centuries old barriers to the gospel. “The Information Age is boundary blind,” O’Brien writes, “There are no unique continental or regional areas identified exclusively as ‘mission fields’.” 9. Our participation in the flat world as missions and ministries does not just happen. We need to step into this as “spiritual flatteners”. I will report more at out next meeting, so do come prepared. Remember, God has been speaking to us over the past two years about the value of communications and over the past three years about healing our nervous system. I believe He is presenting us with both opportunities and tools to do exactly that, but we will have to commit to take a lead in this. It cannot be left to writers, researchers and IT buffs. 10. This new platform; ‘It is a global, Web-enabled platform for multiple forms of collaboration. This platform enables individuals, groups, companies, and universities anywhere in the world to collaborate -- for the purposes of innovation, production, education, research, entertainment, and, alas, war-making -- like no creative platform ever before. This platform now operates without regard to geography, distance, time, and, in the near future, even language. Going forward, this platform is going to be at the centre of everything. Wealth and power will increasingly accrue to those countries, companies, individuals, universities, and groups who get three basic things right: [1] the infrastructure to connect with this flat-world platform, [2] the education to get more of their people innovating on, working off of, and tapping into this platform, and, finally, [3] the governance to get the best out of this platform and cushion its worst side effects.” (2005:205)

  18. 3 out of 5

    Andrew

    What an excellent book. It is a really compelling tale of the current state of the world in regards to free trade, outsourcing, and technology. I’ve never read a book before where I literally found myself agreeing with every point that was made. I thought all of his ideas were spot on. He has a great way with words and with breaking concepts down into simple terms. But at the same time, still being able to remain technical. I especially liked his “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention“. He is referr What an excellent book. It is a really compelling tale of the current state of the world in regards to free trade, outsourcing, and technology. I’ve never read a book before where I literally found myself agreeing with every point that was made. I thought all of his ideas were spot on. He has a great way with words and with breaking concepts down into simple terms. But at the same time, still being able to remain technical. I especially liked his “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention“. He is referring to Dell, the multi-national computer conglomerate. Whether or not you like Dell, you have to admit that their supply chain and usage of technology to get your computer order taken, assembled, and shipped is amazing. (For details on this supply chain, see pages 414 - 419 in the book.) “No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain. Because people embedded in major global supply chains don’t want to fight old-time wars anymore. They want to make just-in-time deliveries of goods and services — and enjoy the rising standards of living that come with that.” — The World Is Flat, p. 421 He translates participation in what I would call “ultra-capitalism” as a so-called “cure” for war mongering. Ha! But I admit, it does certainly make sense. It is an excellent book. Anyone who is involved in anything having to do with technology today should certainly read it. And for anyone else, it is a good insight into how quickly the world is changing, right under everyone’s noses.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I find Thomas Friedman very engaging and rely on his research and opinion very often when making a point in an argument.

  20. 3 out of 5

    Schnaucl

    The premise is that due in large part to technology the world is becoming flatter. Thomas Friedman clearly thinks this is a great thing with very few drawbacks. In fact, he doesn't address any drawback except in passing (other than the random aside that terrorists can use the Internet to network too) until the penultimate chapter. This is clearly meant to be a book about how globalization affects the individual. Friedman tries to show this by sharing anecdotes and interviews but nearly every sin The premise is that due in large part to technology the world is becoming flatter. Thomas Friedman clearly thinks this is a great thing with very few drawbacks. In fact, he doesn't address any drawback except in passing (other than the random aside that terrorists can use the Internet to network too) until the penultimate chapter. This is clearly meant to be a book about how globalization affects the individual. Friedman tries to show this by sharing anecdotes and interviews but nearly every single person he talks to and every story he shares is about a founder or head of a company and the few that aren't deal with people who are no more than 3 levels from the top of the company. Hardly "everyman." The book has a lot to say about what CEOs and entrepreneurs can do to stay competitive (mainly keep innovating, not exactly a new idea) but there is very little about what the rest of us can do besides "continue to try to make ourselves employable." He proposes that companies make sure their employees are employable and in return employees give their loyalty. This seems unrealistic given today’s business climate. He views the Internet as a great leveling force, but mentions the censorship in China only in passing and doesn’t discuss how it affects his theory. I believe he thinks the situation is temporary but as major companies seem happy to cooperate with filtering, I don't see change in the near future. Friedman is also very big on the idea of globalization as an economic equalizer. He goes on at length about how it's a force for good because it dramatically raises the standard of living in developing nations, particularly India, but it isn't until the penultimate chapter that he admits that's only true for about 2% of India's population. And while he's busy talking about what a great opportunity it is in terms of income and how Indians no longer have to emigrate to have a much improved standard of living and that even those abroad can have access to hometown newspapers ,etc. he doesn't seem to realize the contradiction when he mentions a man who started an elementary school for India's Untouchable class, hoping to prove that with the right education they can be just like the higher castes but who then must to move elsewhere after they are educated because their last name reveals their caste. While he was trying to argue that the Internet will eventually bring more income equality it seemed to me that it made the rich richer and the poor were still left behind. (And never a word about the exponential difference between CEOs and the lowest paid employee). It’s good that high caste Indians have a better standard of living but we're still seeing the standards improve for the people at the top and not much change for everyone else. He talks about Wal-Mart’s "just in time" model of business and in his penultimate chapter he does address some of the problems. A global supply chain can be decimated by war, disease, or natural disaster and if things are only delivered "just in time" companies can be completely screwed. The advantage of this is that it makes countries think twice about going to war (specifically countries like India/Pakistan and China/Taiwan) because they know if they screw up the global supply chain companies will be extremely wary of ever investing in that country again. But Friedman extols the virtues of Wal-Mart's use of RFID technology without mentioning the concerns of privacy advocates. I think one of Friedman's biggest failings is that so much of the book is about the Internet as a great equalizer and there is not one word about Net Neutrality. The book was updated, revised and re released in April of 2006 so Net Neutrality was a known issue. Having said all of that, the book was still an interesting read. I learned a lot of random things about various companies.

  21. 5 out of 5

    rmn

    If you haven't been paying attention over the past 10-15 years to the changing of the global marketplace, this book is a must read. Even if you have been aware of it, this book is worth a skim. Friedman explores the technological changes as well as the political values which have caused the US to start losing competitiveness to China and India. Progressive pro-business governments in those two countries (yes even China) have embraced technological change and allowed them to rapidly catch up with If you haven't been paying attention over the past 10-15 years to the changing of the global marketplace, this book is a must read. Even if you have been aware of it, this book is worth a skim. Friedman explores the technological changes as well as the political values which have caused the US to start losing competitiveness to China and India. Progressive pro-business governments in those two countries (yes even China) have embraced technological change and allowed them to rapidly catch up with the US. If you don't believe it, this is a book you definitely should read. These are my quick thoughts: 1. Even though the trends remain the same, it is amazing how dated this book has become just 2 years after it was published due to the global financial crisis and the continued advancement of technology. I think Friedman should write an updated version and instead of calling it The World is Flat he should call it The World is Fu**ed. 2. The book is probably 300 pages too long (I read the expanded and revised version), but it is a relatively quick read. Once you get his thesis (which doesn't take too long) you can breeze through the rest. Though Friedman is an engaging enough writer to keep your interest, there is a lot of redundancy. 3. If you are in the anti-progress, anti-science republican party, this may be a tough read, but it is very fair, give it a chance, even if Friedman does gloss over some of the not so good parts of China and India. 4. Friedman is the best journalist on the Middle East and the sections where he touches upon how technology and government innovation (or lack of) have effected the Middle East are among the most interesting. 5. You don't need to be interested in business to be interested in this book. It goes beyond business. Friedman is really talking about huge cultural shifts that are occuring which are leading to the US losing it's place as the world leader.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Friedman is a journalist, not an economist, so the book is more like an extended magazine article than a scientific study. The information is mostly anecdotal, but the conclusions are sound and important. The long-standing guarantee of a middle class life in America is disappearing, and our sense of entitlement to it needs to catch up. If we truly believe in the principles of capitalist meritocracy that have served America so well, we shouldn't be afraid that more countries get to join the game. Friedman is a journalist, not an economist, so the book is more like an extended magazine article than a scientific study. The information is mostly anecdotal, but the conclusions are sound and important. The long-standing guarantee of a middle class life in America is disappearing, and our sense of entitlement to it needs to catch up. If we truly believe in the principles of capitalist meritocracy that have served America so well, we shouldn't be afraid that more countries get to join the game. We should be playing harder. Those with money always want to protect it from those without. For a simple (and almost certainly inaccurate) example, imagine if prosperous 18th century orange growers from Pennsylvania wanted to impose import taxes on oranges from Georgia. We'd end up with more expensive oranges in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanian lands that weren't utilized to their fullest potential. The country has benefitted in the long run from allowing free trade, even if it caused some pain at the start. Just like the fictional 18th-century Pennsylvanians, America needs to embrace its comparative advantages and not dwell on the short-term change in earning opportunites that result. Our policies should try to soften the impact of globalization for those affected and prepare our people for the new economy. We cannot prevent globalization and denial only leaves us unprepared. Then again, I'm in manufacturing, so I have no credibility here. :)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    I'd like to recommend this book to every American under 35 years old, but I can't. They won't read it. Why? It's a 300-page book crammed into 635 pages. Friedman had all sorts of good ideas--important stuff--but he's so busy patting himself on the back, telling us what he's going to tell us (or has already told us) and bashing Bush that he just rambles on and on. Reporters are supposed to give readers the essentials plus enough facts to make the story real and enough anecdotes to make it immediat I'd like to recommend this book to every American under 35 years old, but I can't. They won't read it. Why? It's a 300-page book crammed into 635 pages. Friedman had all sorts of good ideas--important stuff--but he's so busy patting himself on the back, telling us what he's going to tell us (or has already told us) and bashing Bush that he just rambles on and on. Reporters are supposed to give readers the essentials plus enough facts to make the story real and enough anecdotes to make it immediate. The World is Flat reads as if it was out-sourced to one of those Indian call centers Friedman warns us wants our jobs. Too bad he didn't; the Indians might have done a better job.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andri

    Udah setahun punya buku ini.. bacanya gak kelar-kelar.. tebel banget sih.. bisa dijadiin bantal. Sekarang diniatin untuk kelar.. sayang udah dibeli tebel-tebel,.. eh salah.. mahal-mahal.. Dan hasilnya... Amazing. Dahsyat. Friedman adalah pengamat yang jitu, jeli dan mendalam. Juga seseorang futurist yang kayaknya sih tepat. Dimulai dengan perenungannya tentang dunia yang datar, saat one day dia bermain golf di satu tempat di India. Saat ia akan memukul, ada yg mengarahkan : “Arahkan ke Microsoft at Udah setahun punya buku ini.. bacanya gak kelar-kelar.. tebel banget sih.. bisa dijadiin bantal. Sekarang diniatin untuk kelar.. sayang udah dibeli tebel-tebel,.. eh salah.. mahal-mahal.. Dan hasilnya... Amazing. Dahsyat. Friedman adalah pengamat yang jitu, jeli dan mendalam. Juga seseorang futurist yang kayaknya sih tepat. Dimulai dengan perenungannya tentang dunia yang datar, saat one day dia bermain golf di satu tempat di India. Saat ia akan memukul, ada yg mengarahkan : “Arahkan ke Microsoft atau IBM”. Itu adalah dua bangunan baja dan kaca yang berkilauan. Seakan limbung, antara di Kansas … tidak, ia di India. Tapi semua penanda adalah icon icon Amerika. Sesuatu yang terjadi di mana pun. Pernah saya di atas layang Casablanca persis yang di atas Sudirman. Arahkan pandang ke arah gedung Bursa Efek.. oh.. mirip dengan pemandangan yang pernah saya lihat di Hongkong. Pencakar langit yang tak akrab memenuhi langit. Tapi bukan sekedar itu. Buku ini mengangkat kondisi kehidupan di dunia yang saat ini terasa datar. Sesuatu yang terjadi di New York, saat yang sama terjadi di Jakarta. Suatu peristiwa di belahan bumi lain, akan dapat dilihat sekejap dari belahan bumi yang lain lagi. Luar biasa. Kecanggihan teknologi, komunikasi, membuat dunia ini semakin terasa kecil. Terasa datar. Beberapa point menarik dari buku ini di antaranya kekuatan-kekuatan yang membuat dunia ini menjadi datar. Kita yang mengalami, mungkin merasakan kekuatan itu, akan setuju dengan Friedman. Runtuhnya tembok Berlin. Netscape. Anyone remember ? browser yang sangat nyaman dipakai di tahun2 90’an akhir, ketika IE dari Microsoft belum gratis dan belum senyaman sekarang. Workflow. Yang membuat prosedur kerja tidak perlu lagi dilakukan secara manual by kertas. Dulu kalau kita ingin cuti, mesti ambil form di HRD, isi, masuk ke ruang atasan, minta approval, balikin ke HRD. Sekarang ? cukup dari meja kerja kita. Click ke web tempat cuti online, klik, klik, klik, klik, klik.. beres. No need to go anywhere. Uploading. Merubah semua orang bisa menjadi pemberi informasi. Dulu bikin website susahnya setengah mati, mesti belajar dan ngerti kode html. Sekarang. Cukup mengerti klik klik klik klik.. jadi blog yg keren. Outsourcing. Offshoring. Pekerjaan yang bukan core, berikan pada pihak lain, dan ini sudah lintas negara. Teringat pertemuan dengan seorang teman sekitar 2 bulan lalu. Dia bilang, dia akan kena lay-off. Bukan karena global crisis. Tapi karena perusahaannya mengoffshore accounting function ke India, dan di Indonesia hanya dipertahankan 3 orang, yang bertugas sebagai document scanner. Ck ck ck… Supply Chain. Mempertegas hilangnya hambatan antar negara. Insourcing. Informing. Semua bisa mencari informasi sendiri. Googling akan menjadi mata pelajaran di sekolah ( ;-).. yg ini dari saya). Steroid. Digital, mobile, personal dan virtual. Peralatan yang menemani kita dalam keseharian, diistilahkan oleh Friedman sebagai steroid. Itu adalah hal-hal yang membuat dunia ini menjadi datar. Yang menarik, Friedman tidak saja sebagai presentis, pengamat, tetapi juga berlaku sebagai futuris, peramal. Salah satunya adalah bagaimana kita memperkuat diri kita menjadi pribadi yang eksis di dunia datar ini. Tentunya dari kacamata bisnis. Pengetahuan, ketrampilan, ide dan motivasi, akan menjadi modal kekuatan pribadi yang dominan. Pribadi, akan berperan dominan dalam era dunia datar. Jika dalam globalisasi 1.0, negara harus mengglobal, kemudian dalam globalisasi 2.0, perusahaan harus mengglobal, maka dalam globalisasi 3.0, pribadi lah yang harus mengglobal. Individu dituntut untuk berpikir global supaya bisa berkembang, atau sekurang-kurangnya bisa bertahan hidup. Jadi bukan saja keterampilan teknis yang dibutuhkan, tetapi kelenturan mental, motivasi diri dan mobilitas psikologis harus dikuasai. Tak pernah cukup menjadi orang yang sedang-sedang saja (mediocre). Kita harus menjadi yang tak terjamah. Ini berarti orang yg pekerjaannya tidak dapat dioutsource, didigitalkan, atau diotomatisasikan. Apa or siapa kah itu ? Friedman membagi dalam tiga kategori. Pertama adalah orang-orang yang istimewa. JK Rowling satu contohnya. Kedua, orang-orang yang menetap. Mereka memang dibutuhkan di lokasi itu. Tukang cukur, satu contohnya. Kita tidak mungkin cukur rambut secara virtual. Yang ketiga, kelas menengah. Inilah yang terberat, karena kita berada di level ini. Maaf, bukan kita, saya. Kelas menengah harus memiliki keunggulan kompetitif untuk bersaing dengan sesama kelas menengah yang lain. Harus punya nilai tambah. Jadi meskipun secara literal, pekerjaan kelas menengah itu bisa dioutsource, didigitalkan, atau diotomatisasikan, tapi ada value di pribadi itu yang tidak bisa didapat lewat proses outsource, digital dan otomatis. Be special. Bagaimana untuk menjadi special ? Beberapa kemampuan harus dimiliki. Kolaborator. Orkestrator. Mampu menjadi dirigen sebuah orkestra, yang terdiri dari banyak komponen musisi, tetapi menghadirkan musik yang indah. Pesintesa. Bisa menjadi dot people, maupun big picture people. Bisa melihat gambaran luas, mampu mendeteksi gambaran detail. Penjelas yang hebat. Bisa menjelaskan sesuatu yang rumit, dalam bahasa yang mudah, sehingga dapat dimengerti oleh orang awam sekalipun. Pengadaptasi. Tinggalkan spesialisasi, arahkan ke “serba bisa” dan “adaptif”. Pecinta lingkungan. Pemberi sentuhan pribadi. Ini yang menarik. Everything with personal touch.. will be more valuable. Ingat, manusia adalah makhluk sosial yang menikmati kontak personal. Kontak manusiawi. Seasyik-asyiknya conference, tetap lebih asyik chat bilateral. Lokalisator yang hebat. Hati-hati.. bukan lokalisasi.. 8-). Untuk bisa meraih kemampuan itu, kita harus memiliki kemampuan untuk belajar bagaimana belajar. Learn how to learn. Terus menerus menyerap, mengajari diri sendiri. Untuk bisa belajar bagaimana belajar, syarat pertama adalah cinta belajar! Or at least, menikmatinya. CQ + PQ > IQ. Ketika dunia menjadi datar, keingintahuan dan antusiasme terhadap sebuah pekerjaan, keberhasilan, pokok masalah, ataupun sebuah hobi akan menjadi jauh lebih penting. CQ = curious quotient. PQ = passion quotient. Keingintahuan dan gairah yang tinggi, akan lebih penting dibandingkan IQ yang tinggi. Kita perlu bersentuhan kembali dengan antusiasme, gairah yang polos/kekanak-kanakan atas suatu pekerjaan, tanpa peduli gaji, jam kerja, maupun persiapan yang dibutuhkan. Kita perlu menyukai orang. Kita harus mampu berinteraksi dengan orang lain secara baik. Keterampilan relasi, adalah aset dalam dunia kerja, dan juga dalam dunia datar. Ingatlah, interaksi yang mendalam dan pribadi, tidak pernah dapat dioutsource, didigitalkan, atau diotomatisasikan. Tingkatkan kemampuan otak kanan, sebanding dengan otak kiri. Di dunia datar yang banjir oleh data, informasi, dicekik oleh alternatif pilihan, kemampuan yang penting adalah mendekati jiwa dari belahan otak kanan, yaitu kemampuan artistik, empati, melihat gambaran besar, dan kemampuan menelusuri hal-hal yang transenden, beyond, melampaui diri. Lebih memilih untuk membangun relasi dibandingkan transaksi. Tinggalkan one hit action. Jadi ketika kita mendengar seseorang berbicara, lakukan yang anda cintai, itu bukan lah kata mutiara. Tapi itu adalah strategi untuk bertahan hidup, di dunia datar ini. Mau lanjut ?.. baca saja bukunya yah… Sementara... gak sabar saya nunggu buku terbaru dari Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded. -andri- http://kubunetwork.multiply.com

  25. 3 out of 5

    David M

    I fucking hate Thomas Friedman with every fiber of my being.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    I would have given this at least 4 stars if it had been edited to a reasonable length, with less repetition. Despite what many of the reviewers suggested, it wasn't a fully one-sided account of free trade. Though Friedman's position was mostly pro-free-trade (most economists are pro), he did discuss problems and inequalities that arise and acknowledged the complexities of free trade. The book was also pretty thorough discussing not just government policy, but also technology, education, cultural I would have given this at least 4 stars if it had been edited to a reasonable length, with less repetition. Despite what many of the reviewers suggested, it wasn't a fully one-sided account of free trade. Though Friedman's position was mostly pro-free-trade (most economists are pro), he did discuss problems and inequalities that arise and acknowledged the complexities of free trade. The book was also pretty thorough discussing not just government policy, but also technology, education, cultural attitudes, and even terrorism. I'd recommend it but only if you're prepared to do the hard hard work of slogging through.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Telander

    THE WORLD IS FLAT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (RELEASE 3.0) BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Thomas Friedman is a well known columnist for the New York Times and the person to turn to for answer’s about this country’s economy and where it’s headed. The premiere hardcover edition of The World is Flat hit the bookshelves in April of 2006, and in that time it has gone through a second edition in hardcover, and finally a third edition in both paperback and hardcover. Friedman’s excuse for updati THE WORLD IS FLAT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (RELEASE 3.0) BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Thomas Friedman is a well known columnist for the New York Times and the person to turn to for answer’s about this country’s economy and where it’s headed. The premiere hardcover edition of The World is Flat hit the bookshelves in April of 2006, and in that time it has gone through a second edition in hardcover, and finally a third edition in both paperback and hardcover. Friedman’s excuse for updating is that the world is constantly changing, necessitating further chapters in his book. One wonders if there may be a “Release 4.0” in the paperback; only time and our ever-changing present will tell. Nevertheless, The World is Flat is a truly unique book, whether it be for a student of economics, or a person looking for answers to why outsourcing is getting so out of control. Friedman begins with an introduction to how he discovered that the world had become flat; noticing details here and there in his travels around the world, and then putting it all together. He then leads into his ten forces that flattened the world, explaining how they came to be, what effect they had on the “flattening” of the world, and how some are continuing to do so. These include two important dates: 11/9/89, which was when the Berlin Wall came down and eastern Europe and Russia joined the rest of the world once again; and 8/9/95 when Netscape first released its browser to computer owners, allowing them to surf this new thing called the Internet. Friedman hits every important step in the way business has changed in the last three decades: from Wal-Mart’s ingenuity in supply-chaining, leading to the incredible system whereby a product is purchased at a Wal-Mart store sending a message to the supplier which immediately starts making another copy of that product; to software development in its original free form with LINUX; to the light speed development of sites like MySpace, Facebook, and online blogs where everyone has a voice; to the existence of large buildings in places like Bangalore, India, housing thousands of customer service representatives helping American customers thousands of miles away with anything from credit card bills to cellphone technical questions. With these ten factors serving as a basis for how and why the world has become flattened, Friedman takes the reader on a trip around the world, elucidating exactly why when we call for help now, the chances of getting a person with an accent who’s native language isn’t English are incredibly high. But isn’t this what America is all about? Perhaps not, when the person you are talking to is on the other side of the world, and that this is somehow cheaper and better for the company you are calling that using an American citizen who could be just a few miles away. While Friedman does have some answers, it is clear that America and the world is at a turning point, much like the beginning of the twentieth century when there was the roaring beast of industrialization, and the explosion of the assembly-line system of the Model T Ford. One can certainly expect more from Friedman in the coming years, as new and inconceivable changes happen before our very eyes. For now, The World is Flat is the only guidebook we have, and it does its job to a T. For more book reviews, and author interviews, go to BookBanter.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kiet Huynh

    Nửa đầu sách hoàn toàn không để lại ấn tượng. Tác giả chỉ nêu lại những thứ rất-quen-thuộc trong thời đại mình: chuỗi cung, mạng máy tính, UPS, outsourcing, insourcing, e-commerce... (đúng tinh thần "Tóm lược Lịch sử Thế giới TK XXI" - nhiều quá không nhớ nỗi ^^!). Người đọc thì chán còn tác giả thì kể như "OMG! I have never seen anything like it before. It's a miracle!" =.= Những phần còn lại rất hay, bớt cường điệu hơn, đa phần về nước Trung Quờ như cạnh tranh, tài nguyên, chiến tranh, chuỗi cung Nửa đầu sách hoàn toàn không để lại ấn tượng. Tác giả chỉ nêu lại những thứ rất-quen-thuộc trong thời đại mình: chuỗi cung, mạng máy tính, UPS, outsourcing, insourcing, e-commerce... (đúng tinh thần "Tóm lược Lịch sử Thế giới TK XXI" - nhiều quá không nhớ nỗi ^^!). Người đọc thì chán còn tác giả thì kể như "OMG! I have never seen anything like it before. It's a miracle!" =.= Những phần còn lại rất hay, bớt cường điệu hơn, đa phần về nước Trung Quờ như cạnh tranh, tài nguyên, chiến tranh, chuỗi cung ứng. Mà đúng thiệt vậy, bởi thật sự anh thứ CS là tâm điểm, trigger của rất nhiều vấn đề hiện tại trên thế giới. Đặc biệt thích đoạn tác giả miêu tả mối quan hệ TQ và Mỹ: Ban đầu tôi sợ sói, sau này tôi khiêu vũ cùng sói và ngay bây giờ tôi muốn trở thành sói. 12 năm sau ngày sách ra mắt, dù kỷ nguyên số đang diễn ra cực mạnh, công cụ hôm nay sẽ lỗi thời vào ngày mai nhưng Thế Giới Phẳng dường như không quá cũ. Những vấn nạn toàn cầu hóa gây ra vẫn còn rất nóng, đặc biệt vấn đề Trung Đông, môi trường. Nói chung là thỏa mãn.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Satya Welch

    Truth can be a little scary. Friedman has a way of explaining the world as we know it, but more important what we do not understand that we should. A great and though provoking read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Did you say "FLAT"?

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.