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Unformatted text preview: Notes on The World is Flat (Friedman, 2006) page 1 Summary and excerpts from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat (2006) by Bill Altermatt CHAPTER 2: THE TEN FORCES THAT FLATTENED THE WORLD What Tom Friedman means by the phrase “The World is Flat” is that “the global competitive playing field is being leveled…It is now possible for more people than ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the planet and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world” (p. 8). Friedman believes that this “flattening” of the world is the result of ten factors, which he outlines in chapter 2 of his book: Flattener #1: “11/9/89, The New Age of Creativity: When the Walls Came Down and the Windows Went Up.” On 11/9/89, the Berlin Wall fell (“the Walls Came Down”) and the citizens of the former Soviet empire were suddenly able to participate in the global economy. Friedman uses the fall of the Berlin Wall as a symbol for a general global shift towards democratic governments and free-market economies (where consumers determine prices based on what they’re willing to pay) and away from authoritarian governments and centrally planned economies (in which prices are set by government officials). India made the conversion from a centrally planned economy to a free-market system two years after the Berlin Wall fell, when its economy was on the brink of collapse. Their annual rate of India’s growth soared from 3% per year to 7%. Friedman argues that the Berlin Wall also represented a barrier to seeing the world as a “a single market, a single ecosystem, and a single community” (p. 53). When it fell, it became easier for the world to see itself as one gigantic economic playing field. Six months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in May 1990, Microsoft shipped its breakthrough operating system, Windows 3.0 (“The Windows Went Up”). This may not sound like a big deal, but this operating system was so much easier to use than previous versions that Friedman argues it is in large part responsible for popularizing personal computing – everyday people began using computers. The reason that personal computing is influential is that it fostered people’s interaction with digital media content – music, pictures, video, and text that is represented as 1’s and 0’s on a computer and thus can be stored, manipulated, and shared in an infinite number of ways. Film is replaced with memory cards. Records are replaced with electronic files on MP3 players. This is what Friedman means when he calls this period “The New Age of Creativity” – it is the time when people are given the tools to author and share new information faster and easier than ever before....
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- Fall '11