在全球化到達顛峰的前夕推出，"The World is Flat"的確為二十一世紀的前十年做出極佳的總結。寬頻網路、科技創新，印度服務外包、中國製造代工，各方水到渠成的結果，「世界是平的」至今仍是大家朗朗上口的一句話。作者不僅爬梳這十年來全球化發展的歷程，也提示世界各國都將面臨更多的競爭和未知的挑戰，政治封閉、資質孱弱、裹足不前的國家將成為全球化的隱憂。唯一的解方是從國家到企業到個人，無一不兢兢業業，孜孜矻矻，順應資本主義的邏輯調整自身體質，迎向競爭找到適合自我特色的機會。做為新自由主義的信徒，作者仍然對全球化的許諾抱持樂觀，頗有反駁世紀初反全球化運動的態度。
接下來發生的事我們都知道了。這本書出版時，iPhone和Facebook、Web 2.0風潮尚未誕生。而它們的出現不但印驗了作者對全球科技創新的描述，更進一步加速抹平世界的過程。資訊賦權、人人都是媒體，乃至大數據、物聯網，世界只有越來越平，朝著不可逆的方向。但2008年的金融海嘯狠狠地戳破全球化泡沫，乃至2010歐債危機，全球化連動讓經濟低潮和金融危機更加複雜難解，更證明自由貿易不敵投機遊戲，科技新創精神最終仍由投資大戶和跨國企業肥貓收割，全球化資本愈益集中在1%。消除貧窮的夢想破滅，貧富差距成為少子化世代危機。地緣政治至今仍然阻礙全球化進程，中東地區各方的勢力鬥爭彰顯利益才是全球化的本質。在"The World is Flat"之後作者寫了兩本書，應該對近十年來全球化的困境有新的看法，雖然我還沒讀，但從這本書作者的思維脈絡也不難推想出他的說法。無論如何，都難掩作者看全球化的態度和國際關係的認知太過簡化，以為科技創新賦予個人平等機會，外包代工帶來各國分工共享能夠一起把餅做大，這種希望不但過於樂觀，更是天真！而全書以大美國主義為出發點，更坐實全球化其實是美國單一領導的批評，雖然作者期許美國的是更正向更積極的角色定位
Friedman's impressive work on how the world became flat and what we can do about it (not much, just go with the flow/opportunity). In case you wondered, Friedman knows the world is not flat. He is certain that the world is shrinking and falting for some time now and that this process has quickened dramatically in recent years. The title was just a (great) way to draw attention to this fallting and quickening pace. Everything gets effected when the world moves from a primarily vertical (command and control) value creation model to an increasingly horizontal (connect and collaborate) creation model (several paragraphs have Open Innovation written all over them, yet the term is never mentioned). But a complete flat world without friction is a mixed blessing. What values do we want to keep despite these developments?
Friedman basically observes ten megatrends (forces that flatten our world), first as a personal discovery, then by digging deeper into these megatrends. All-digital, mobile and personal serve as flatteners on steroids, ending up in a triple convergence. He then describes how this Flat world affects America, Developing countries and Companies and Geopolitics. Regarding geography: my first time I to see "geographers" mentioned next to theologians and pundits, who wanted to make the world flat again (quoting John Doerr). Now why would geographers want that? A spherical world is much more of a challenge then an flat world.
Read this book if the want to know why WallMart should not support the Republicans as much as they do, why there is no limit to the number of idea-generated jobs in the world and why versatilists, not specialists or generalists, are needed in the future of today. "the flattening of the world is too young for us to draw any definitive conclusions". That would also account for Friedman'ns observations and his hypothesis, as I recall some academic discourse on the topic by Philip McCann (which I will reread asap).
Friedman ends with a few nice final lines about the generation of strategic optimists, the generation with more dreams then memories, the generation that wakes up each morning and not only imagines that things can be better but also acts on the imagination every day. The kind of generation our world needs. - A worthwhile read, even way after the hype....Continua
The author, Thomas L. Friedman, is so optimistic about the globalization powered by the rise of China and India as well as the Internet and various Web 2.0 services. This book can be either a guidebook of mining the opportunity of the global business or a warning letter to the Protectionism.
Have all forecasts mentioned in the beginning of Internet Era be realized? There is a long long way to run....Continua
This is the hardest book I have ever read. However, I do wish to complete this book one day in the future...when I am financial free!