Friday, January 18, 2013

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first CenturyThe World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first saw the title for this book, "The World Is Flat," I did not know what to think. Then I saw the subtitle, "A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century," and thought it would be an interesting read. The author, Thomas L. Friedman, does an excellent job explaining how the world has become flat. By flat he means that the world has become smaller in the sense our neighbors are now people from India to China to Europe. Friedman notes that the internet has had the most impact on this flattening. Did you know that often a CAT scan that you have done in the US often is read by a doctor in India or another nation?  I know through experience that often "help desk" for computer problems, modem, router, tv, etc problems are directed overseas, but never knew that medical issues, tax preparation, and many other things are sent overseas with the results emailed back to our nation. Friedman explains that not only is this cost effective (wages are usually lower in other nations), but also the services can be completed while we sleep because of the time difference. Friedman makes a case that this flattening benefits both countries. He goes in detail the "Ten Forces The Flattened the World," including: 11/9/89 (Berlin Wall falls); 8/9/95 (when Netscape went public); Work Flow Software (many software programs working together to create one project); Open-Sourcing (many people making software free to help other applications, such as Apache); Outsourcing (finding other companies often in other countries that can do part of your companies work cheaper then you can); Offshoring (moving a company to another nation to take advantage of lower wages, health care etc. to make things cheaper); Supply-Changing (how companies all over the world work together to sale their products-good example is Walmart); Insourcing (when a company combines their service with other service-a great example is UPS who no only delivers packages but also does other things like repairs computers for Toshiba); In-Forming (how anyone with a smartphone, laptop, iPad, etc. can check facts in an instant-example: sitting in church you hear the pastor say something that does not sound right, just google it on your iPhone); and The Steroids(digital, mobile, personal, and virtual all wireless).

A couple of interesting things that I found in the book was the following: There is a McDonalds that when a driver goes through the drive through and orders he is actually talking to a person in another state. The order taker takes the order then emails it back to the McDonalds where the driver ordered. They found this speeded up the process by several seconds. The other thing I learned is that in today's world the bottom line is much more important then relationships in business. He gave an example where a salesman who was accustomed to building relationships (often the salesman would supply NFL tickets to his clients) found that his clients only wanted to communicate through email no face to face contact.

After reading this book I was reminded how many Bible prophecies seemed very difficult to be fulfilled, but with all the technological inventions it is easy to see how they will be fulfilled. I am sure we will see many more inventions in our lifetime.

If you are interested to learn how our world has grown smaller I highly recommend this book!

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