The World is Flat: Chapter 13
Summary of Chapter Thirteen: Globalization of the Local: The Cultural Revolution is About to Begin
Friedman had been accused of leaving out questions of culture in his discussions, so he briefly addresses the topic in this chapter. First of all, many people believe that globalization means Americanization, that they will lose their own cultures. While a global network seems to lead to cultural homogenization, Friedman thinks ultimately it will lead to the nourishing of cultural diversity, because of the phenomenon of uploading. People can globalize their own special spot of earth by sharing it in a podcast, blog, video, or website. Communications has made the world multicultural; in the United States, for instance, there are TV programs in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.
Commentary on Chapter Thirteen: The Cultural Revolution is About to Begin
Friedman comments that one cannot take the position that this new technology is all good or all bad. It has had some negative effects on cultures, and some positive. It has not driven the world to accept the American way of life as the only one to copy. If anything, a world audience is hungry for different flavors and enjoys travel and difference as much as it ever has, even if only in virtual form. Games and films and websites explore the geography, history, myths, and customs of every corner of the earth and will no doubt continue to do so. On the other hand, Friedman does not bring up the deep impact technology has had on traditional cultures in the world that are losing their languages, ceremonies, and religions, knowledge of natural medicines and how to live with the earth. He gives as a positive example former Hindu temple artists and sculptors transferring their skills to digital art for computer games, but artists in traditional cultures practiced their arts in sacred and prescribed ways. More is involved than a mere transfer of medium. This topic would no doubt have to be a separate book.