Saturday, October 23, 2010

The World Is Flat

Category: Books
Author: Thomas L. Friedman

Rating: 4 stars

Thomas L. Friedman writes about how globalization has led to an increasingly “flat” world (where everyone has equal access to resources, information, markets, etc.), especially since the later decades of the twentieth century. He argues that the flattening of the world has changed the face of business, culture, livelihood and information in developed and developing countries alike. Understanding how the flat world works, therefore, is regarded as the key to achieving success, whether the objective is to improve the efficiency of a business, expand one’s personal capabilities, or address the world’s social problems.

The book is interesting, informative and easy to read. Even though the language can become technical at times (especially for those who are unfamiliar with the IT world), Friedman gets his point across by using many true-to-life examples of individuals, companies and governments who have (or haven’t) successfully adapted to the flat world.

Some Interesting Topics

1. Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) improving socio-economic conditions in India
2. WalMart's state-of-the-art global inventory system
3. IT businesses in the third world as an alternative to charity
4. International companies as deterrents of war
5. State/government reforms necessary for globalizing a country

Some Reservations

As good as the book may be, however, I still have some reservations. Although Friedman makes it a point to talk about globalization from many different aspects, he is unabashedly pro-American. For example, in answering the question,
What will happen to the earth’s limited resources if the world really does go flat (everybody consumes the same amount of resources), he falls short of really challenging first-world consumers to consume less. He also observes that nuclear holocaust is the biggest threat to the flattening of the world, but takes the position that the US must maintain its arsenal while other countries (such as North Korea) forfeit theirs. The world is not fair, he says; that’s just the way it has to be. Now I don’t have a grand solution to these tough questions (apart from my faith), but I find Friedman’s approach a little disappointing.

That being said, The World Is Flat is still a helpful, fascinating and hard-to-put-down book. I happily give it four stars. :)

Where to get it: Just about any bookstore. It's a very popular book. :)


  1. This one's in my reading list this break.

  2. Good to hear, Lance! Please let me know what you think about it when you're done. :)