The World Is Flat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     Here best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman discusses life, business, and government in a flat world. Humans are all “lions” or “gazelles” racing for survival in a new era of globalization, according to Friedman. Cheap, high-speed communications are leveling the playing field between wealthy and developing countries, and in this flat world, only the fittest will survive.

Friedman explores the economic and social implications of an interconnected global economy. This intriguing and well-researched book both entertains and challenges with its description of a new world that operates at lightning speed.

The first half is a crash course in modern history in which Friedman describes the events that led to the flattening of the world. Although this could have been a snooze, Friedman keeps the tone lively and interesting with humorous anecdotes and brief descriptions. He deftly outlines key events in the last century - the fall of the Berlin Wall, Y2K, and the dot-com boom - and then explains how technology and the Internet connect companies and individuals as never before.

The repercussions of this vast global economy are explored in the rest of the book, in which Friedman discusses the effect of the flat world on individuals, companies, and nations. His combination of statistical information and real-life examples creates a vivid picture of both the opportunities and dangers. Those who are quick to take advantage of the new economic system reap large profits, while those too slow to adapt pay a heavy price.

Friedman focuses heavily on the American experience, devoting over a hundred pages to an analysis of the effects of the flat world on existing workers and future generations. Outsourcing is a constant threat to American workers with China and India’s vast sources of cheap labor, but low-level factory jobs are not the only ones at risk. Both India and China have large pools of well-educated workers, and Friedman argues that even high-skilled American jobs can be sent overseas.

To his credit, Friedman avoids the hysteria and defensiveness that often characterize discussions about outsourcing. Although he ultimately favors outsourcing, he does not ignore its hardships. Friedman gives practical advice on how one can become versatile and adaptable so one’s skills will continue to be in demand.

Friedman is most serious when dealing with the future of the United States in the flattened world. Although we have the resources and political system to benefit from the global market, he believes that our nation has not prepared its children for the future fierce competition. A “quiet crisis” in education has led to a shrinking pool of young talent in vital areas like science and engineering. When older scientists retire, the U. S. will have no one to fill this area.

Despite these grim warnings, The World is Flat is ultimately a positive book. Globalization is happening and is inevitable, Friedman seems to say. Instead of fighting it, he offers advice on how to adapt and take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities it offers.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 8 at 12:57 pm
i love this !
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