The World is Flat: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. “In 2003, some 25,000 U.S. tax returns were done in India. In 2004, the number was 100,000. In 2005, it was roughly 400,000” (Chpt. 1, p. 13).

    Friedman demonstrates the phenomenon of outsourcing, where the basic work in an American company can be done more cheaply in another country. This trend is now part of normal business practice.

  2. “Change is hardest on those caught by surprise” (Chpt. 1, p. 21).

    Friedman gives one reason for his book—to warn people of the changes taking place with globalization through technology.

  3. “'Today, the U.S., you are the designers, the architects, and the developing countries are the bricklayers for the buildings. But one day I hope we will be the architects'” (Chpt. 1, p. 37).

    Friedman quotes a Chinese mayor. Friedman repeatedly makes the point that Americans need to be more alert and ambitious or other countries like China will outcompete them and become the new technology leaders.

  4. “Communism was a great system for making people equally poor . . . Capitalism made people unequally rich . . .” (Chpt. 2, p. 51).

    Friedman discusses the effect of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of communism, as the great flattener and opener of one global capitalist market. More people than ever before have a chance to be better off economically, though there is still inequity.

  5. “'People have an innate urge to connect with other people . . . people are wired to want to connect with other people and they find it objectionable not to be able to do so. That is what Netscape unlocked'” (Chpt. 2, p. 68).

    Here Friedman quotes Marc Andreessen, inventor of the browser Netscape. By listing the ten flatteners of the world like browsers and Internet, Friedman makes technological globalization seem an invincible force coming from human nature itself.

  6. The invention of shareware “enabled them [people] to upload files and globalize that content—individually or as part of self-forming communities—without going through any of the traditional hierarchical organizations or institutions” (Chpt. 2., p. 94).

    Friedman discusses the unleashing of the power of the individual who can go directly to his or her audience on the Internet without a middleman or without permission or even money.

  7. “The dot-com bust actually drove globalization into hypermode by forcing companies to outsource and offshore more and more functions in order to save on scarce capital” (p. 230).

    Friedman claims the dot-com overinvestment bubble in America was a boon to the rest of the world because companies were forced to go global and therefore jumpstarted other economies.

  8. “We need expanded notions of ownership, for a postindustrial world” (p. 254).

    Collaboration is replacing single ownership of products and services. That means many people and companies contribute a piece of the pie, so how do we sort out rights and responsibilities?

  9. “We don't want America to be to the world what IBM was becoming to the computer industry in the 1980s: the people who opened the field and then became too timid, arrogant, and ordinary to play on it. We want America to be the born-again IBM” (p. 367).

    Friedman worries that America is coasting on its celebrated technological reputation and will not be able to stay in the game.

  10. “The iron law of globalization is very simple: If you think it is all good, or you think it is all bad, you don't get it . . . the flat world empowers the forces of darkness as well as the forces of light” (p. 510).

    Friedman does not focus on the negative effects of global technology but mentions a few—pornography, racism, lies, rumors, slander, fraud, and destruction of privacy.

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