Nov 14

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Open Source, Web 2.0, and the Flat World

If you're in NY, you might be interested in an event that I'm going to be part of on Nov. 30, along with Brian Behlendorf and Thomas Friedman, Innovation and Growth in a Flat World. It's put on by Collab.Net and Information Week, and focuses on the challenges and opportunities of what Friedman has called "the Flat world." Space is limited; if you're interested, apply for a ticket here. I'm looking forward to this. Brian is just about the most thoughtful guy there is about open source, and I've long been an admirer of Friedman.

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» Flat World and Web 2.0 coming together from On the Edge - René Seifert's Insights

What belongs together, gets together. In the last 18 months I have quite consistently focused on the "Flat World" and "Web 2.0" in my work and written quite a lot also on this blog here. So it is really exciting... Read More

Comments: 10

  alex [11.14.06 01:20 PM]

sounds like a good event. Will there be some type of podcast version of the event at a later date?

  michael schrage [11.14.06 02:38 PM]

dude -

you're WAY more thoughtful than tom friedman - and a better writer, to boot...

  Alex Payne [11.14.06 05:15 PM]

Before wasting time and money on anything involving Thomas Friedman, give this review of his latest book a read.

  Tim O'Reilly [11.14.06 06:36 PM]

Alex -- That review seems like a nasty piece of work to me.

Like most business books, the The World is Flat is an essay blown up to 500 pages, but the idea is an important one. Just because it's "obvious" to the reviewer doesn't mean that it's obvious to everyone else. Sometimes, framing a simple idea with a powerful image brings it home in an important way.

Your criticism reminds me of people who say there's nothing to Web 2.0 because the web doesn't have version numbers.

At any rate, tastes differ. I do find Friedman interesting.

  Tim O'Reilly [11.14.06 06:37 PM]

alex -- I don't know, but I'd be surprised if there weren't a later podcast version. I'll ask the folks at collab.net, who are sponsoring the event.

  Aaron [11.14.06 07:14 PM]

Like Alex Payne, I'm disappointed to see Friedman's work being promoted by O'Reilly. A more in-depth criticism of 'The World is Flat' can be found here.

  adamsj [11.15.06 04:49 AM]

I like From Beirut to Jerusalem (not that I often agreed with its ideas, but thought it was thoughtful and well-written), but when I read the description in The World Is Flat of the drive from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport into Bentonville as passing through "Dogpatch"--a drive I've made literally dozens of times--I knew that, whatever other merits the book might have, they were unlikely to outweigh his clear inability to tell working, productive farmland from fiction.

The rest of the book may be brilliant, but I lose confidence in an author who can't see what's in front of him.

  Alex Payne [11.16.06 01:22 PM]


That article was indeed nasty, far more so than I'd write myself. Like other commenters I've found some of Friedman's older work interesting and much of his recent writing disappointing. There are more disciplined reviews of "The World Is Flat" out there, but few as biting, entertaining, and challenging (in the competitive sense) as the one I linked to.

Friedman is billed as a top-shelf thinker both by newspapers and by events like the one you're promoting. Friedman is decidedly not a top-shelf thinker, and by all recent demonstrations is a downright sloppy thinker of the sort that would offend any technical mind. It's not merely that his self-styled revelations are "obvious," they're nigh-on irrelevant. Doing Globalization 101 in 2006 is wasting precious words in the (inter)national discussion. Maybe that warrants getting nasty.

I made no argument of my own in my previous comment and have no particular opinion about your anti-Web 2.0 strawman.

  Ray Tapajna [12.04.06 01:09 PM]

Thomas Friedman is a late comer in the Globalist Free Trader debate. There are many others who are much better than he is. Friedman acts as if he found something new but he hacks out the same old stuff as the old computer saying goes- "garbage in and garbage out". His input is faulty. He uses statistics that have been radically altered from the past but uses them in his comparisons as if they are the same. For example, the unemployment reporting has changed dramatically. Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics interviews 50,000 households a month. Those occoupants are asked if they looked for work in a certain week in the previous month. If they say yes, they are considered unemployed. If they say no, they are not considered unemployed even if they do not have a job. In the past, the unemployment rate was based primarily on full time jobs with benefits. The reporting was related to the unemployment insurance offices. However, since only about 38% of all workers in the USA now qualify for unemployment insurance, the method of data collection was changed. Workers fail to qualify because they either do not make enough money or work long enough at one job in a given period to qualify. Many are missing in action from any kind of reporting being contract workers or employed in the underground economy.
It is difficult finding out how many workers in the USA are full-time and what is considered full-time these days. A person making only a $100 a month is considered employed. This would have been laughable in the 1970s and a Congressional investigation would have been called.
Hurricane Katrina exposed a vast underclass in New Orleans living in a silent depression. This situation resides in the rest of our land going unreported. The statistics differ from the streets of USA.
Thomas Friedman ignores the fact that workers have no voice in the process of Globalization and history tells us what happens when this happens.
He also ignores the fact that Free Trade is not trade as historically defined and practiced. Today it centers on moving production from place to place in search of an endless pool of cheaper and cheaper labor. Workers are the commodities in this trade and they are put on a global trading block to compete with one another for the same jobs.
It does not matter if everyone in the world is provided a good education and a PC computer if all have to compete for the same jobs.
Also, Free Enterprise has been challenged. Free Enterprise is supposed to make it easier for people to be good. Free Enterprise is based on an owner making a decent living from their efforts and having enough profit and mark up for their employees or workers to at least have a living wage. Today, we have unbridled raw Capitalism which isolates any competition based on who has the most money to outlast those with the least. It now even includes state run Communist enterprises in the mix.
The U.S. Federal Government first sponsored the moving of factories outside of the USA in 1956. It was supposed to be just a temporary program but it never ended and it evolved into what is called Free Trade today. Prior to the passing of NAFTA and GATT trade agreements there were already more than 2,000 factories moved to Mexico alone. After NAFTA and GATT were passed this number quickly doubled to more than 4,000. These agreements just confirmed and speeded up the process that was there for many years. Thus, we have a long history of Free Trade failures and it Friedman suggestions about potentials are flawed.
Now many of these factories are on the move again to places like China because the Mexican workers refuse to work for only about a $1 an hour. Instead they flock to the USA for jobs that pay at least five times more. President Bush says they are taking jobs Americans will not take but he leaves out the part about the jobs Mexicans won't take.
In the end, we have a global arena with vast transnational corporations acting as Global Plantation Owners controlling the flow of wealth in a new kind of wage slave trade. In the end, it is indeed a race to the bottom.
Radical Communism stands ready to fill the voids and instead of dwelling on the Flat World of Friedman, we should be preparing for the post-Globalization era.
Real experts have told us about all of this for many years now.
Manuel Castell who comes from the Communist era during the Spanish Civil War has several books on the subject of Globalization from a Populist perspective dating back to Teddy Roosevelt whose worst fear for America was big businesse merging with governments acting as brokers.
Sir James Goldsmith did the walk before he talked. He was a corporate raider who changed his world view for the common good. His book The Trap tells about the real world of Globalization and Free Trade.
Chuck Harder, host of For the People radio worldwide, challenged the Globalists for many years and his insight triggered Perot and others.
Dr. Pat Choate, was chosen by Perot as his Vice Presidential candidate also has books on the subject.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur was Perot first choice to run with him as his Vice President candidate and knows more than Friedman will ever know about the issues of Globalization and Free Trade.
Cliff Barney has written many articles including some about Manuel Castell in the old Upside Magazine which was centered on high tech investments.
Search under any of these names and you will find a vast reservoir of real world information and of course there is also Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs tell it like it is.
For more information see:
Explore the lost worlds in the Flat World of Thomas Friedman at http://tapsearch.com/flatworld
with Ray Tapajna, editor and artist at Tapart News and Art that Talks at http://tapsearch.com/tapartnews http://tapsearch.com/flipflatworld

  Ray Tapajna [01.07.08 04:22 PM]

(The above url for experience designer network has been changed - see http://unnettedjourneys.filetap.com )
For related articles relating to the Flat World see http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Ray_Tapajna citing the effects of Dysfunctional Globalist Free Traders.
Alan Greenspan 's book - The Age of Tubulence seems to fit into the scheme of things in the Flat World and like Friedman, Greenspan leaves out important periods in history. He seems to be defending his image for the sake of history. Suprisingly, he does not even use the term Free Enterprise. It is not even in the index of his book. He also leaves out the fact that workers have no voice in the process of Globalization and Free Trade.
Our review of The Age of Turbulence has turned into several posts at http://www.bizarrepolitics.com starting with http://www.bizarrepolitics.com/confessions-for-history/
It links to an Open Letter to all Presidential Candidates at http://www.phillyfuture.org/node/5885
asking who said we had to compete in a global economic arena outside the will of the people. Have Globalization and Free Trade evolve in a natural economic fashion or has it been driven by external powerful forces outside of the democratic process?
"The Bewildered New World" by Cliff Barney in Upside Magazine after an interview with Manuel Castells is a journalist masterpiece and we will be reviewing it again at Bizarre Politics. It is a must resource for any study about Globalism.

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