Chapter 13 Summary of The World Is Flat

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Globalization and both its immediate and lasting effects are the topic of chapter 13. Globalization is a process in which people, cultures, social norms, and virtually every facet of every culture is intermingled into, at worst, a homogenous mess of the strongest cultural elements. In a way, it is “cultural imperialism” (p. 506) and can threaten the livelihood of smaller cultures. Despite this, however, the chapter emphasizes that although this cultural dominance could be a possibility, it is not inevitability. 

In some cases, the capacity for cultural diversity is immense due to the potential of the Internet because its users are able to upload created content from any culture that anyone can see. Americanization, a much more specific form of globalization, “is still a very powerful force” (p. 507); however, it is not destined to overwhelm diversity primarily because America cannot be the sole content creator in the world. A foreigner living in America is not condemned to becoming a proponent of that culture because his or her original is still readily available in the form of accessible media and communication.

Certainly, the implications of technology in combatting globalization are evident. As media becomes more readily accessible and as content becomes easier to create, it is likely that sharing that content will also become user-friendlier. The skills for creating certain content, such as “animation” (509), are more readily available and practical. For example, Friedman (2006) explained that when “3-D [computers for drawing] were not here in India” (p. 509), animation was not a skill that immediately useful. With the usage of technology, however, the workplace can foster each individual’s unique content creating ability.

Essentially, Friedman (2006) found that “The flattening of the world is about the creation of a global platform for multiple forms of sharing work, knowledge, and entertainment” (p. 510) which is the most obvious function of technology. While globalization is certainly still a possible issue for some cultures that are threatened by Americanization, the Internet, along with increasingly cheaper and usable technology for content creation, makes the whole process simpler. The Internet affords a voice to everyone and it will only become easier to use that voice with time—for better or worse.  

Reference

Friedman, T. (2006). The world is flat: A brief history of the 21st century. New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux.