Thomas Friedman’s Flat World

Forrest ChristianOutsourcing, Reviews - Articles 2 Comments

There are two recent articles by Thomas Friedman, who did the recent PBS series on outsourcing to India. He’s also written a book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, which is due out soon.

Friedman’s article in the New York Times Magazine (It’s a Flat World After All”) is interesting. The article has been archived by NYT, so try your local libraryHe went to India and in a conversation with an Indian engineer had an epiphany:

At one point, summing up the implications of all this, Nilekani uttered a phrase that rang in my ear. He said to me, ”Tom, the playing field is being leveled.” He meant that countries like India were now able to compete equally for global knowledge work as never before — and that America had better get ready for this. As I left the Infosys campus that evening and bounced along the potholed road back to Bangalore, I kept chewing on that phrase: ”The playing field is being leveled.”

”What Nandan is saying,” I thought, ”is that the playing field is being flattened. Flattened? Flattened? My God, he’s telling me the world is flat!”

Here I was in Bangalore — more than 500 years after Columbus sailed over the horizon, looking for a shorter route to India using the rudimentary navigational technologies of his day, and returned safely to prove definitively that the world was round — and one of India’s smartest engineers, trained at his country’s top technical institute and backed by the most modern technologies of his day, was telling me that the world was flat, as flat as that screen on which he can host a meeting of his whole global supply chain. Even more interesting, he was citing this development as a new milestone in human progress and a great opportunity for India and the world — the fact that we had made our world flat!

CIO Insight featured an interview with Friedman that’s interesting. (“World Without Walls”) The interview is a part of their special report on Global Outsourcing.

Friedman came to Southern Illinois Unversity in Carbondale, IL and the Daily Egyptian had this review of his talk.

TIME magazine also had a review of his book recently.

Friedman’s making waves with his material: three Pulitzers will do that. It’s worth paying attention to what he says if you are in the business of multi-cultural change or you work in the international trade world, which most of us do.

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