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Second Draft:

Page history last edited by Hannah Livernois 12 years, 7 months ago

Hannah Livernois

Jared Grogan

English 1020

October 13,2011

Welcome to the Flat Bottom World

     According to a report completed by Pew Internet and American life project, as of 2011, about 90% of Americans own a computer. The computer has become a pivotal part in American and World culture; we use them intently as the years have progressed. Thomas Friedman, a New York Times Journalist, published his realization of how the world is “flat”. Most of his examples in this book are personal experiences, it took him years to research this piece and he is astounded with his findings. In “The World is Flat”, Friedman argues that the flatness of the world and the advances in technology not only bring the world together but also eliminate the old life styles many are familiar with, through the uses of personal experiences, logical appeal, and irony.


     The book starts with a friendly game of golf, in which Friedman’s friend Jerry Rao says “aim for Microsoft or IBM”. This simple joke was strange to Friedman; he was flabbergasted to find out how many companies had recently opened up offices in India. But of course, India had recently become a technology super-hub. They were soon flying in teachers to instruct natives how to speak with a perfect American, Canadian, or British Accent. Soon Friedman takes us through a journey through ten basic ideas that have change the way we do things, i.e. the fall of the Berlin Wall, the introduction of Netscape, just to name a few. With this and the added personal experience here and there, Thomas Friedman gives his audience a huge critical thinking challenge, in which he claims “the world is flat”.


     Friedman aims this book at adults who have experience both ways of life, i.e. life before and after technology. As a young-teenage girl, I did not find this book as much of an eye opener as my father did. He grew up being outside all day and using the phone to communicate with family members in far away states, whereas I grew up with technology and technology has almost like a second language to me, I would spend days one the computer talking to my friends and looking up information, and now with the introduction of social networking all my friends can meet up and we can discuss anything. The difference is my father’s childhood and my childhood; they were two completely different worlds. This book is harder to relate to as a teenager as opposed to a middle-aged adult, all I found the book to do is outline my childhood, and my father on the other had was left wondering where we as a culture were going next.


     Friedman instills fear with his audience with the introduction of his experience and interpretation of outsourcing of American manufacturing. He shares his shock, through his personal experience of actually being in Bangalore during the Technology boom. Bangalore had easily become the technological support system for the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. He was amazed at how easy it was for someone in India to work together with another employee in Utah, with the simple yet complex invention of the internet. The internet aided in American outsourcing, for the first time in history a company could have a product made in china, shipped to America for consumers to buy and have tech support in India. From this came the growth of United Parcel Service. UPS makes it easier for companies to export goods from country to country, and had such an important impact on companies and business that majority of them move to Louisville Kentucky, so they could primarily use the headquarters or hub for shipping and ultimately, providing optimal opportunities for companies to grow.


     The introduction of Netscape not only connected all the computers together in the world but made the program easy to use anyone one from “five years old to eighty-five years old” could use it easily. This program progressed America. Suddenly we could talk to anyone we wanted and we could share information with anyone. Netscape became the new medium and quickly. Companies were jumping at the chance to use Netscape in their building, and some even went as far as to have their own programs designed to improve productivity.


     Netscape has quickly brought the world together. Of course with any successful program comes a competitor, i.e. Google chrome, or Internet Explorer. The internet was designed to share information easily, and quickly it became the new medium. Friedman uses irony to convey his stress with the internet super-highway. He has quickly realized that things are much easier and more accessible through the internet and we all should embrace it. However, he finds it strange that anyone from “five years old to eighty-five years old” can use the internet efficiently. He often reminisces about the old business days and how if you wanted a business relationship you would have to impress your potential client, whether you took them to a baseball game or out to a nice dinner, but he quickly expresses those days are long gone. With the introduction of the internet, there is no need to leave your house. With the internet, you can shop, research, invest, communicate, and share from the privacy of your own home.


     Conversely, the internet didn’t just develop one day out of the blue and it did not come out of the sky, it has evolved. Originally, the World Wide Web was obtained through the phone lines and currently we obtain it through the satellites. Friedman introduces his theory of “triple convergence”, through the use of logical appeal. With the added personal experience, to help aid in conveying his point, i.e. airline ticket purchases. Initially, you would purchase the ticket via a phone or in person at the airport, and then you would proceed through the norms of the airport. Then you could buy your ticket online and just check in at the airport and then proceed. Currently, you can buy your ticket and pick your seat so when you arrive at the airport you can skip all the mumbo jumbo and head straight to security. “Triple Convergence” implies the growth of the internet itself. Advances in technology have provided not only the growth of the American economy but the world economy. However, triple convergence only refers to the current change of the internet, but not the forth coming change we have yet to experience. This growth only adds to the world’s flatness.


     As the world advances into technology some countries and cultures are left in the dark, as pointed out when Friedman travelled to Google headquarters. Google CEO’s have a globe that lights up every time someone logs on google.com and with that the Middle East and most of Asia is pretty dark. As Friedman points out the flatness of the world, he also reminds us of the “unflat” world. Incongruously, as the light shined recently on India and China we found out that there was another billion people in each of the those civilizations. Ironically, only 2% of Indians are actually a part of the technological world, the rest all live in poverty. The majority of the world does not have internet connection and are doing just fine. All the internet connection has done is taken away the personality of life and the building of friendships within a business society. Now, as Friedman points out, you have a young man or woman answering your emails, as you try and get your two companies to merge. We as a society need to change to stay on top even if it means to leave the old ways behind.


     The most important point in this book is the introduction of the idea of the relativity of 11/9 and 9/11. Friedman states that on 11/9, when the fall of the Berlin wall occurred, people began to see the world as a whole as opposed to old and new. However, when 9/11 occurred it killed people’s imagination and ability to dream because technology aided in those attacks. It made it possible for every one of terrorist answers to have a found solution. For the first time since its invention the internet and the sharing of information actually hurt Americans. But living in America and achieving the American dream isn’t easy and 9/11 only made it harder on Americans.


     The shock that he conveys may not be as easily to relate to as a young adult, but it still injects the fear and a realization of the affect the internet has on the world, in many ways our world is all through the internet. In conclusion, Friedman is scared for the future of the world at the same time he applauses it. He shares many personal experiences from golfing in India to purchasing of airline tickets, and with these the reader gets this “easy-to-relate-to” persona. Friedman also used logical appeal, with simple statements, and ethical appeal that allowed the reader to think over his points. Friedman may be a big shot Journalist for the New York Times but he is also is easily assumed and astounded with the technology world. In a way, technology is a whole new world in which people need to embrace and learn from and not push away. He came to the simplest statement “the world is flat”.

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