The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

the worls is flat

A reflection on Thomas Friedman’s speech on Globalisation:

•  What does it mean that the world is flat according to Thomas Friedman? What are some of those flatteners? What kinds of implications does this idea have for teaching and learning?

“Columbus in 1492 accidently found the world is round. Today, 1200 years later, I accidently found … the world is flat.”

The sentence above, extracted and paraphrased from New York Times Foreign Affair Columnist, Thomas L. Friedman’s, speech at Yale University in 2005 while presenting his new book “The world is Flat”, portrays his belief concerning the current existing globalization trend. Based on this perspective, all individuals possess equal chance of success in the 21st century’s global market in a way that external factors such as historical, geographical, social and even lingual differences are becoming more and more irrelevant.
According to Friedman, globalization encompasses three phases; the last phase being the era, in which he believes the world has been commercially leveled. The phases are as follows:
1. Globalization 1.0: (1492-1800s) – World’s size shrinks from large to medium through country globalization (e.g. colonization)
2. Globalization 2.0: (1800s-2000) – World’s size shrinks from medium to small through global marketing
3. Globalization 3.0: (2000-to present) – World’s size shrinks from small to tiny through individual and small group globalization
Freidman, also, through his vast studies and several interviews with affecting figures identifies ten major events having a significant part in flattening of the world:
1. 11/09/1989: when Berlin Wall is broken down and in the meantime, Windows operating system is launched universally.
2. 08/09/1995: when Netscape makes its shares public (destroys internet monopoly by certain companies) and offers the following services to the world:
i. Creating internet browsers
ii. Commercializing the net aiming at interconnection
iii. Launching fiber optic cables connecting the world

3. Workflow software: by which all various existing applications around the globe become interconnected.
Freidman introduces these three flatteners as the springboard for global collaboration, different forms of which have helped further leveling of the world. Those flatteners include:
4. Outsourcing
5. Off-shoring
6. Open-sourcing: sharing knowledge for free
7. Supply chaining
8. In-sourcing: UPS
9. Informing: google

10. The Steroids

In my opinion, such a worldview, suggests that in near future individuals to be able to remain and compete in the playing field need to adjust and upgrade themselves to the current changes and this only will be possible through education. That is educational systems should aim at preparing individuals for entering such intensive arena. They should not merely be content with providing literacy for the students; but to put multi-literacy as their agenda. I very much agree with the idea that in today’s world one cannot survive if s/he does not keep themselves with technological and global advances made.


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