Here are my last thoughts on the book. I basically just reflected on ideas from the last third.

Developing Countries in the Flat World

I thought it was really interesting that China is doing better in this flat world than Mexico, considering how close Mexico is to the U.S. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that Mexico has an upper hand in the world economics and yet they are not doing as well as China. They need to look at their country and see what needs to be changed. They need strong political figures to guide their country into this millennium. According to Friedman, countries that have open and competitive markets are the ones who get out of poverty. When they have this market structure they can begin to do business with industrial nations and begin to receive work and grow their abilities. But, the leaders of the country must have that vision and those goals in order to accomplish this economic success.

Companies in the Flat World

There were some basic ideas that I drew from this chapter that I could really relate to. First of all, the idea of creating an environment where employees can stretch their imagination reminded me a lot of Google’s policy. Google states that each employee is guaranteed 20% of their time to work on whatever they want…relevant to Google’s goals of course. What a phenomenal idea to get new ideas. They don’t force their employees to only work on projects that they assign; they can work on other projects as well. In fact, Google Mail was one of these 20% projects. They foster an environment for imagination and innovation which helps make them so successful.

Another idea I found interesting was small companies acting “big” by using different collaboration tools. So many companies today can reach so many different people just because they have the ability to make themselves as available as those big corporations. Small business owners have so much more visibility in this flattening world and so many more opportunities to prove themselves and build their customer base. This puts big businesses up to a new kind of challenge that they must deal with. Their competition is more than just the other big businesses.

Creating a company that allows individuals to serve themselves is another idea that Friedman writes about in his book. Dell Computers is the first company I thought of when I read about this. I can go to their web site and create my own computer, with my own features. This idea can also be applied to training. We need to give our learners many different options to help them learn that content. Customize and tailor!!

Outsourcing can be used to grow a company’s economic success faster than if they don’t outsource. Outsourcing is not necessarily a “bad” thing. Outsourcing can actually help a company grow. This idea goes back to when Friedman talked about labor being outsourced and innovation staying inside the company.

Companies are more transparent now. Companies cannot hide behind their walls now. What they do is seen all over the world in a matter of hours or even minutes. They are now visible and their employees are visible. They have to be much more careful about their actions and how that will affect their customer’s perception.

You and the Flat World

Uploading allows each individual to become an author and to become an “expert.” We have to make sure, as consumers, that we are informed. We can not assume that what we read is accurate and correct. We have to use our own knowledge to decipher what we read. Also, we have to teach our kids to be informed, since they may take everything they read as fact.

In addition, we can become part of communities. We can now share knowledge that we would never have had before these collaboration tools existed. Also, this makes it so small activism groups are more global. If an individual wants to make a difference, there’s no reason that person can’t. There’s nothing stopping them. Being a small organization does not stop you from making a difference in this flat world.

My favorite quote from this book is “Feed a person a fish and you have fed that person only for a day. Teach a person to fish and you have fed that person for a lifetime, But I would add: Help that person grow a fishing business and you will have fed not only his family but also half the village.” How very true. Education is not the only answer, although it is important. However, we need to help impoverished people actually grow a business, something that is sustainable. Education does them no good if there’s no job to go with it.

Collaboration allows students to experience different cultures and work with people from very different environments. In the Flat Classroom Project, students did not just gain the content knowledge but also the ability to work with others and the ability to collaborate. This gives them skills that can be used in any and every field

Friedman also points out that “every new technology or toy that connects us more easily divides us more easily.” People don’t have casual conversations on the bus anymore because everyone has an iPod in their ears. It makes each of us more secluded. We can be working in the same place and never actually talk to one another. This can affect relationships and in turn, productivity.

Content on the Internet presents everyone with an interesting situation. Public figures can not do anything without it showing up on YouTube or on a blog. There is no living it down with just the few people around you. I saw an interesting case on the primetime show Boston Legal involving defamation of character from a YouTube video. In the show the case was dismissed because the video presented the actual person doing something they actually did. It didn’t give any commentary on what happened, it was simply a video of an event. This brings up some interesting privacy issues that our legal system will need to deal with in the very near future.

Geopolitics & the Flat World

Friedman notes that the only way out of poverty is through the collaboration between the flat and non-flat worlds. The reason a lot of countries are still living in poverty is because they have blocked themselves off from the rest of the world and don’t want any part of the flattening effect. However, the other side of the coin is that they don’t get any of the benefits and continue to live in poverty.

People are put in contact with each other even when they don’t necessarily want to be. Because the world is flattening around them, people in some countries are threatened and humiliated because now everyone knows what is going on in their country. Before the flattening effect, they didn’t have that problem and the way they are responding is through terrorism. As Friedman puts it, “terrorism is spawned by the poverty of dignity.” People don’t like to be embarrassed and the flat world allows that to happen a lot more easily.

If everyone in the world began participating in society like we in America do, it would have major environmental affects: more pollution, more energy consumption, and greater fuel shortage, just to name a few. So the dilemma we face now is how do we deal with the problems of the environment and not restrict these countries joining the flat world. I think the answer lies in innovation. We will begin create new energy sources when we have to. The problem thus far has been that there was no need and therefore, no one was motivated to study these alternate energy sources. Now that there is a need, maybe our government and large corporations will begin to look into solving the problem

Friedman also discusses the interesting dynamic between international relations and participants of the global supply chain. If countries want to be a part of this supply chain, they must keep their political differences with other countries in check. They cannot risk losing their place because they may not be able to get it back for a long time. This might lessen the tension between certain countries, but it could also cause major economic disaster if major participants in the supply chain go to war.

There is a mutant global supply chain exposing itself to our world. If we can do it, then they can do it. There is nothing stopping terrorist organizations from using these same collaboration tools and new technologies to increase their effectiveness. Plus, unlike a lot of companies, they have one ultimate mission and don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy that comes with a regular business. There is a real threat and a real trade-off between having the ability to live & work in this flat world and having the fear of terrorists doing the same thing. Also, this collaboration allows terrorist organizations to have a lot more power in recruiting and increasing their visibility in the world. Everyone can see what they’re doing and that can lead to fear.

In conclusion, I found that this book offered many interesting insights into how our world functions today. The question remains, what will I now do with this information?