Book review on the world is flat – questions

Chapter 3:

Complementary goods
* Convergence of technology: Work-flow hardware and software have combined in order to consolidate many different office and productivity functions into one machine. The creation of the personal computer has made it a word processor, typewriter, calculator, research machine and media creator all in one. The printer/scanner/copier has provided one machine from which to fax, print, scan and copy documents, providing added productivity to school papers or documents for work. This convergence also allowed for these products to become cheaper, allowing me to run a small business out of my home with just these two devices.


* Cooperation with other businesses: In order to run my business, I often cooperate with other companies and departments to provide a comprehensive product. I produce short films which are used for profit; other companies, just as small as mine, add their own innovation to our products through the addition of sound design, editing, titles and graphics, and more. By pooling resources between several different companies, we increase the value of our combined product and generate more profit amongst all parties.


* International horizontalization: In order to accomplish many of these tasks (e. g. animation), I outsource the work to other companies in the East. They then create the work that I require, and they share in the profit.
* International distribution: By creating short films for the Internet, they are seen by a greater swath of the world population, thus making them more potentially profitable due to the global audience globalization makes available.

Chapter 6: (1page)

* Source of innovation: Business and corporate idea generation is one of my greatest strengths and capacities. Being able to spontaneously generate new ideas that will resonate with the target audience is something that cannot be equivocally traded, unless a more desirable creative presence is somehow found and desired.
* Creative talent: Outsourcing ideas is a much trickier thing to do – it is nearly impossible. The value of my creative work and ability to coordinate films, marketing and advertising is what may allow me to remain untouchable.
* Comprehensive, all-inclusive skill set: Due to my ability to do a wide variety of things (accounting, editing, marketing, publishing, financing, etc.), I have a wide and varied skill set that essentially makes me a company unto itself. There is no need to outsource work when one individual can do several jobs at once.
* Electronic capability, capacity for global operation: Due to the many electronic resources I have (including computers, Internet, fax, email, smartphones, etc.), I can access all parts of the world at all times without degrading quality.
* Specialization: Many of my unique skills are so specialized as to nearly be impossible to find a replacement for. My specialization is personality; customers come to my business for the unique perrsona that I offer through web videos and an online presence. That cannot be replaced in an equal manner, making my job as that somewhat more secure; I have made myself into a brand, which is much more difficult, if not impossible, to outsource.

Chapter 8

Currently, there is an incredibly pressing dilemma taking place in American business and economic dominance; more and more Americans are losing their own sense of ambition and intelligence. Furthermore, fewer young Americans are seeking careers in the sciences, including biology, chemistry, math and so on. This can have tremendous effects on the ability for America to remain dominant in a political and scientific context.

However, in order to change that, some hard choices have to be made. What could potentially be done to increase interest in the math and science disciplines of education? The dilemma of education relies on its overall purpose: is it merely meant to educate minds in the way they wish to be educated, or is it meant to be a mill for practical career building? There are many different perspectives on this, and the question boils down to which accomplishments are more productive. Problem-solving is emphasized less and less in American society, and intellect is nurtured in decreasing degrees.

The best way to combat these potential downfalls is to more pressingly link careers in the maths and sciences to profitable, productive careers. Finding ways to capture the imagination of youth in the sciences is the best way to make sure that interest and enthusiasm for these subjects is maintained. Far too often, people take refuge in the humanities and the arts because they are perceived to be ‘easy.’ While they still carry their own unique challenges, they are also presented as more exciting and interesting than scientific pursuits. There is less difficult schoolwork involved, and not as much time spent in labs or in tutoring.

Another thing to keep in mind is the idea that individuals should be allowed to be educated on their level playing field. All too often, children’s education becomes stagnant because they are not advanced to a grade level appropriate for their intellect. Instead, they are merely assigned to arbitrary grades based on age; when they prove to be one or more grades above the material, they are kept in the same grade nonetheless. This can breed bad study habits and a tendency to not challenge oneself, thus robbing them of their incentive to try; their development becomes arrested, and they often find it burdensome to lower their activities to those of their peers. Their true intellectual capacity is not nurtured, and as a result it becomes stagnant.

The modern perception of intellectualism is a far cry from what has been used in civilizations past. Athens saw the upper class students be paired with tutors to expand their existing intellectual pursuits, and the lower classes learned the practical skills they needed by employing freelance teachers to instruct them. Later education systems in Florence and England also followed these tutor-based relationships. These teachers and curricula were individualized, specialized and tailored to the individual child’s abilities and requirements. As a result, they were constantly pushed and challenged to the next level of their intellect; no stagnation took place.

Returning this to an American context, a return to rewarding intellectualism must take place. Far too many Americans are daunted by the excessive work that is required to excel in math and science, requiring study and learning skills they do not bother to learn in their secondary school education, which leaves them unprepared by the time they go to college. The notion of excellence, in my mind, has become stagnant in the face of assumed dominance over the rest of the world as its remaining superpower, and so there is no incentive or threat to its dominance that inspires students to push for advancements in the sciences. This has led to stagnation and arrested development in American youth, as it has merely become easier to seek careers in the humanities, and they are not forced to expend themselves in the scientific pursuits that are meant to maintain the status of America as a superpower.

Business Summary Report to Thomas Friedman

1) Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the idea of paying a different company to do the work of your company. This can provide many incentives; first of all, it cuts costs dramatically to have people in other countries do your work, particularly as you can pay them less to do it. You get more or less the same results without having to pay your workers as much. According to Friedman, outsourcing permits for cost-effective splitting of manufacturing and service activities; the Internet has permitted near-instantaneous communication with everyone in the entire world, making it nearly seamless to provide intercompany communication between those who are doing the work you have outsourced.

Nearly every large electronics or manufacturing company has a presence in India or China; India has become a haven for telecommunications for everyone from AT&T to Sprint, and even computer companies like Dell and Gateway. Effectively, all customer service has been outsourced to India, where tech support and customer service call centers work to supply American customers of American companies with support from India. The costs are lower, as well as taxes, and there is no loss in productivity while still lowering pay for workers. ” Given India’s one-billion-plus population, this competition produces a phenomenal knowledge meritocracy. It’s like a factory, churning out and exporting some of the most gifted engineering, computer science and software talent on the globe” (Friedman, p. 127).
2) Supply-chaining

The concept of the supply chain is one that involves the combination of technology and organization to create a steady flow of productivity from sales to distribution to shipping. Large department stores, such as KMart and Target, use these larger supply chains to directly handle the acquisition of raw materials, the manufacturing of retail products, the shipping of these retail products to stores, their distribution among each chain and the customer service for the product after time of purchase. This helps to create a comprehensive loop of business that allows for total control of one company over an entire supply chain. Using outsourcing, retail and other tactics, stores like Target can put products of hundreds of brands and categories on the shelves of a single store, creating a one-stop shop for those who wish to benefit from the convenience of having everything in one place.

These larger department stores also affect the smaller supply chains of the companies whose products they put on the shelves: ” Just one company, Hewlett-Packard, will sell four hundred thousand computers through the four thousand Wal-mart stores worldwide in one day during the Christmas season, which will require HP to adjust its supply chain, to make sure that all of its standards interface with Wal-Mart’s, so that these computers flow smoothly into the Wal-Mart river, into the Wal-Mart streams, into the Wal-mart stores” (Friedman, p., 152). The bigger supply chains dictate what the smaller companies have to do in order to be patronized by them, which will then increase sales for both companies. It is a symbiotic relationship that can often work out well for these companies.
3) Convergence 1: Flat-world platform

Once everyone realized in the 1990s that computer power had enhanced enough to enable greater connectivity between everyone, the first convergence began. Soon, everyone was able to connect with everyone else, but they needed all of these different components in order to do it. ” The work flow software and hardware converged in a way that enabled [companies] to offer scanning, emailing, printing, faxing and copying all fromt he same machine” (Friedman, p. 203). People started integrating these technologies in order to expand their resources on a global scale. Before long, that led to the creation of comprehensive computer technology and peripheral integration, which combined all of the necessary functions that were needed for a business enterprise to survive, as it was soon true that you absolutely needed these converged technologies to survive.

Once technology for business became so cheap and universal, everyone reached a level playing field. Any company in any country could establish a strong, worldwide presence and interact with everyone else equally, all thanks to technology. eBay is a strong example of a business that uses this first method of flat-world convergence; the advent of technology has led to everyone being able to become eBay vendors and marketers, running their own small businesses with the same level of technology.


Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: a brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.