APLawrence.com -  Resources for Unix and Linux Systems, Bloggers and the self-employed

The World Is Flat

  • Thomas L. Friedman
  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • 0739461621

This is a book about computers. The author thinks it's about outsourcing, globalization and all that and of course it is, but the underlying force that drives all of this is computers and the Internet. You know that: maybe you are a "victim" of outsourcing and globalization yourself, or you know someone who is. You aren't going to find much commiseration here: reality bites, and the reality is that the world is changing.

It's not the first time. From fire to the wheel to steamboats and electricity, change has always caused economic displacement and adjustment. Maybe you grew up thinking you were immune; more the fool you, unfortunately. Technological change always makes new winners and losers. Sometimes it won't touch you and your little cocoon at all, but sometimes it rips everything open and spills you out into the big bad world.

If you don't have a clue what's driving all this, you'll probably be one of the losers. If you do understand, you may still lose, but at least you'll go down fighting. You don't have to be a computer geek to survive (though that won't hurt), but you do have to understand what's happening and where the opportunities are and are not.

I found this book a little boring: constant examples of what is really the same phenomena repeated for almost 500 pages is a little much if you already "get it" - if you understood back in the mid nineties what was happening and what was about to happen. But there are probably still lots of people who do not "get it" - and unfortunately that includes some of the people who are angry about overseas programmers and call center operators.

If you are smiling right now, you don't need this book. If you have that worried, puzzled look on your face, or are tempted to leave a nasty comment about damn foreigners ruining America, click the link above, buy it with one-click and get overnight delivery: you need this.

Reality bites. Yes, there social programs that we desperately need to help the unprepared get through this, but your best protecton is to learn and do whatever you can to help yourself. Don't count on help coming from anywhere else: it might, but the faster things change (and they change mighty fast nowadays), the less governments are able to help. Government just isn't capable of reacting quickly enough. You need to help yourself if you possibly can.



Got something to add? Send me email.



5 comments



Increase ad revenue 50-250% with Ezoic


More Articles by

Find me on Google+

© Anthony Lawrence







Fri Mar 10 06:00:10 2006: 1759   FloralMike


I read it and enjoyed it. I learned some things, but most I already knew. I still enjoyed it, although it was pretty long. I learned some things about Open Source software that I did not know. I read with interest some of the details of about how those craft Indians grabbed a fair amount of worldwide business, using excess resources from some greedy yanks that aren't even around anymore. If you enjoyed this book, you may like Freakonomics. Thanks for providing such a wonderful resource as aplawrence.com for us to enjoy!






Fri Mar 10 14:06:19 2006: 1766   TonyLawrence

gravatar
I didnt like that the autor understands the value of standards and openness, but then applauds Microsoft.. If Microsoft had its way, none of this ever would have happened.. the author points to Microsoft Word as a "flattener": that's reallt bad judgement..



Sun Mar 12 22:23:27 2006: 1775   TonyLawrence

gravatar
I was thinking today about the congruence (or lack of) in the U.S. Gov. attitudes toward immigration and outsourcing. These are really very similar subjects and yet the official policies toward them are very different. Outsourcing - good for business, mostly unregulated. Immigration - lots of regulation, whether good or bad for business depends on the business. But immigration and outsourcing both shuffle work around.. both often involve low wage jobs.. with some exceptions, of course. But it's hard to see how you could think outsourcing is great and immigration bad or vice versa. Yet people do..



Mon Mar 13 16:45:23 2006: 1777   BigDumbDinosaur


I was thinking today about the congruence (or lack of) in the U.S. Gov. attitudes toward immigration and outsourcing.

The lack of congruence merely reflects the lack of unity within the U.S. federal bureaucracy (not to mention a lack of national unity with regards to public policy). Labor matters are handled by one bunch of policy wonks and immigration by another. These people can't agree on the time of day when looking at the same clock. So how would you expect them to develop a unified policy in which job outsourcing is treated as a virtual form of unfettered immigration?

Also, much of our governmental policy in the last several decades has fallen victim to political correctness and unchecked liberalism. As long as we continue to parade around with our collective heads up our *redacted* with regards to controlling the influx of foreigners into this country, as well as the exodus of jobs, we will continue to erode the basic qualities of American life that make this country a magnet for everyone who feels oppressed.

I don't think most Americans are opposed per se to immigration. After all, every one of us is either an immigrant or a descendent of one (even the American Indians, some of whom insist that we call them "Native Americans," are immigrants -- they are no more "native" than I). Immigrants are who built this country and made it was it is. Where the dissent arises, methinks, is in the quality of immigrants we receive today. The immigrants who arrived here in the 19th and early 20th centuries were hard workers cut from a very different cloth than the current crop that seems to be flooding our shores today with many demands but little to contribute. That inscription on the Statue of Liberty about the poor, huddled masses is being a bit too liberally interpreted. But the real problem goes well beyond that.

In the nearly 40 years in which I have been in the labor force, I have witnessed a great eroding of the manufacturing sector in this country. In the 1970's, the push was to improve the quality of the environment. The way to accomplish that, said the environmental radicals, was to rid ourselves of all those smelly factories with their tall smokestacks. So, public policy was reshaped to agree with the narrow viewpoints of the environmental whackos and the factories were given the heave ho. But they didn't disappear! All they did was move to a different part of the world -- taking with them the jobs that they had provided to generations of Americans (many of whom were legal immigrants). So, one could argue that the outsourcing of jobs began long ago when lawmakers failed to consider the unintended consequences of going from no environmental regulation to overwhelming regulation.

So here we are some 35 years later, driving Japanese cars, wearing apparel made in China (purchased from Wal*mart), buying computers with Taiwanese parts, assembled in a factory in Malaysia or Singapore, and all of this stuff brought over to the USA on ships built in Korea, powered by German-made engines, crewed by Dutchmen and unloaded by Mexican workers. Not much American content there, eh?

Those who are reading this and are not fully cognizant of American history might say, "So what?" Well, the problem can be defined in simple terms. We are no longer a major exporter of goods as we were in past years. Mostly, what we have to sell these days are services, which have relatively little value as an export commodity -- other countries (e.g., India) can provide them at much lower cost than we can, so who'd want them?

Our loss of manufacturing capability represents more than a loss of jobs and an out-of-kilter balance of trade. It leaves us highly vulnerable to economic upheaval at the hands of foreigners who may not be very friendly toward us. Also, our ability to defend ourselves from attack is highly dependent on our ability to manufacture goods. How can we do that if the factories are not here? Our ability to prevail during World War II was as much due to our industrial might as it was our military might. Our armed forces would have been unable to do much of anything if we had not had the manufacturing capacity to keep them (and our supposed allies!) supplied with weapons, food and clothing. So why did we throw all of that away? Why do we continue to throw it away? So some poor slob half way around the world, living in a country whose policies are, more often than not, anti-American, can have a job?

Getting back to immigration, right now there are far too many people who show up at our shores expecting to be welcomed with open arms, yet once here, behave as though they are still back home from where they emmigrated. I especially have a big problem with those who come here from Arab countries to partake of all we have to offer and who insist that we treat them as we would any other American (including upholding their "rights" that they magically acquire as soon as they set foot on American soil), yet continue to wear the uniform of the Middle East and refuse to assimilate into our culture. They don't respect our beliefs and customs, yet are quick to take to the streets and protest when we appear to not respect theirs (especially when foreign policy is involved), all the while staying firmly planted in the USA, safely out of reach (so they think) of the forces that are causing so much turmoil elsewhere in the world.

If you think I am hopelessly out of touch with modern thinking, you're dead right. Let the arguments and rebuttals begin!



Mon Mar 13 17:02:39 2006: 1778   TonyLawrence

gravatar


If (for example) we were not outsourcing to India, they'd probably be a "problem" for us right now - another Iran. Mexico and indeed most of South America is going to be a big, big problem for us someday perhaps not too far off if we don't get our heads out of our privileged butts and start realizing that poverty isn't a choice or a defect or a lack of clear thinking but is instead the end result of horrific greed by those who already have too damn much.

If the undesirables are too uneducated, then let's educate them and especially their children. You'll of course say it costs too much and it does, but the real cost of NOT doing this is incalculable.

As this book explains, the world is becoming flat. Eventually we MUST become one world of people, of humans. You wouldn't consider for a moment that some poverty stricken resident of Lousiana has no right to walk to Texas and try to improve their lot - but the "immigrants" have no right. I say they DO have a right, a human right that goes beyond governments and prejudice.

We're all in this together. Remember that.

------------------------
Kerio Samepage


Have you tried Searching this site?

Unix/Linux/Mac OS X support by phone, email or on-site: Support Rates

This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more.

Contact us





FORTRAN's tragic fate has been its wide acceptance, mentally chaining thousands and thousands of programmers to our past mistakes. (Edsger W. Dijkstra)

Write a paper promising salvation, make it a 'structured' something or a 'virtual' something, or 'abstract', 'distributed' or 'higher-order' or 'applicative' and you can almost be certain of having started a new cult. (Edsger W. Dijkstra)












This post tagged: