Explain the “world is flat” argument (Friedman) and “the world is spiky” argument? Which one do you believe better explains the impact of globalization and technology on inequality and opportunities for workers? Why?
Friedman argues that the world is flat for a few reasons. One of his reasons being that with technology growing as rapidly as it has over the past few decades Friedman feels that pretty soon all businesses will be done virtually and everyone will have the best prices at their fingertips and be able to make the most profit. This will level out the playing field and competitiveness of businesses because everyone will have the same equal opportunities and resources available no matter where you live. In the reading ‘It’s a Flat World After All’ Friedman states “computers became cheaper and dispersed all over the world, and there was an explosion of e-mail software, search engines like Google and proprietary software that can chop up any piece of work and send one part to Boston, one part to Bangalore and one part to Beijing, making it easy for anyone to do remote development.” (Friedman).
Before this Friedman believes that location meant a great deal in a business’s success. For example cities like NY, Washington DC and Boston who have major advantages due to their location and resources close by as well as population are looked at as these power house spots. With Friedman’s argument pretty soon these cities will not have the same advantage and soon all states and cities will have the same access to these resources that made cities like NY and Boston big and in time will become big as well.
He also points out that because of outsourcing in places like Asia, China and India and their low cost that no matter where the business is in the USA everyone will outsource and as stated above be on the same paying field. This also brings it back to the wealth of knowledge such as Google and other search engines that allow these international countries to be able to know and read everything we do but are able to operate and make the product at a lesser cost due to their cost of living and cultures. These new businesses in foreign countries are able to step right into our playing field instantly with resources we have made available. Americans have already done the leg work, failed in many ways and did trial and error so they can dive right into the new technologies without having to worry about all the sunken costs of old systems that we as Americans took the burden of as we were developing new systems.
Florida on the other hand argues that the world is spiky. Things like your location do and will still matter even with the largely outsourced economy. Florida says that while these countries have surpassed some states there are still plenty of states that are ahead of these same countries when it comes to businesses and profitability. The world is spiky article in our reading suggests that “more and more people are clustering in a certain few urban areas making them a powerhouse” and “that at least some of the tectonic forces of economics are concentrating people and resources, and pushing up some places more than others” (Florida). This means that they are bringing the most talented people in finance, marketing, innovation etc. and making these clusters incredibly strong by putting them all in one spot. When this happens ideas and inventions flow better and are able to be put to the test quicker when these large amounts of talented people are put into 1 room or building. Having constant, quick and easy communication with one another on a daily basis increases productivity as oppose to writing emails that take hours or days to get a response to or setting up a time on your schedule to set up a phone call to discuss ideas, finding or tests. Brainstorming is at their fingertips in these big power house cities and naturally talented people will flock to these areas to grow their careers and have the best opportunities presenting themselves.
My Opinion on the matter is that while both Florida and Friedman make valid and verifiable points, I personally side with Florida a little more in this argument and I will explain. Although technology has “flattened the world” in a sense, it hasn’t made geography totally irrelevant nor do I believe it ever truly will. Yes there has been a large growth in virtual jobs and “at home” jobs but I do not think that will completely take over the world any point in the future. If you want to invent and be successful and you are not in a major urban area, you might want to relocate to one of these areas, even in Friedman’s flattening world.
Even though you can participate in development from more and more remote locations as we have seen lately, if you aggressively want to develop your talent which most of us do then you are more likely to be able to do that in a major urban area. Now I do believe that to some extent that many businesses and jobs will become more virtual but I do not believe it will happen everywhere nor to everyone and I certainly do not believe it will occur enough to reduce the spikes that we see currently.