Where's Nate?

living large in the four-oh-eight. wicked large.


flat is the new round.

So I finally finished Tom Friedman's The World is Flat and would certainly recommend that anyone and everyone should do the same. (I bought it last Christmas and read it in spurts over the past few months.) While none of this was news to a Silicon Valley native, Friedman's insights into India and China were quite informative.

What's interesting to me, however, are two articles from the Mercury News this week about China and India. In the first article, a Chinese academic has come under fire for claiming to invent a new kind of computer chip. Apparently, the pressure to produce a technological breakthrough in this arena outweighed the fact that this new chip concept was essentially stolen. In the second article, Indian doctors are protesting an affirmative action plan to assist lower caste candidates from receiving medical training.

Now, I've certainly oversimplified both issues. But the fact remains that as the world becomes flatter, not everyone plays by the same rules. With thousands of years of history and cutural norms, both India and China are wrestling with elements of capitalism and democracy. It's times like this, perhaps, where Americans might be able to lend a helpful perspective to domestic and economic issues that, one way or another, will touch every global citizen.

More bluntly, Election Day 2008 can't come fast enough.


  • At 12:28 PM, Blogger michael budelsky said…

    I agree that Flat was a great read, though I think that Freidman oversells the importance of technology (although maybe someone with a San Jose perspective would disagree).

    I thought he glossed over some of the huge problems that China and India have holding them back from attaining global economic supremacy. Like you, when I read about the India caste affirmative action and the Chinese scientific fraud, I immediately thought about how they applied to his book.

    I believe that cultural beliefs, staggeringly huge populations (and poverty), and massive demographic shifts are going to hold back the majority of people in those countries from reaching the heights of their educated elite more than Friedman lets on.

    There was one really interesting stat in his book that was sort of burried near the end (after chapters of adulation over India's leap forward and gloom and doom predictions about the U.S.'s own educational system): Those Bangalore-style high tech jobs account for only 0.2% of India's employment. There are an awful lot of Indians not enjoying Infosys benefits.

    Anyway, not agreeing with some of the conclusions did not make it a lesser book in my estimation. To the contrary, it has caused me to think critically about what he wrote and discuss the ideas with other people. Job well done, Mr. Friedman.


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