The World is Flat is one of those lovely life-changing pieces of literature that, if you can get past the author’s infuriating writing style, is worth the significant time investment.
If you’re an entrepreneur, at the least, consider it brain-food, that unique energy that courses through the dendrites of our neural networks, and comes out in the creativity that keeps our endeavours alive.
That said, it’s also perhaps one of the best works of modern prophesy outside of science fiction. If you want to know how the world looks, looking ahead, it’s important to take stock of what we’ve been ignoring all along. It’s not magic – scanning the future – it’s just looking at the present with a more sophisticated lens.
When I was in grad school, I used nanotechnology to illustrate a point, and someone popped off, to the amusement of all, that I must be watching too much Star Trek. Never mind that Eric Drexler, first MIT Phd in nanotech was writing prophetic works that simply required the author knowing what was happening in a few publicly-funded laboratories on better college campuses. The one person in the room who didn’t laugh was a US ambassador who knew very well what we were working on at the time, and whose own articles appeared adjacent to ones on nanotech in journals that were in the library a short walk across campus.
In short, a prophetic view of the future belongs to those who are sufficiently aware of the present. It’s not magic, but it is sort of like travelling back 100 years and introducing the personal computer. It might be just a matter of going into a lab and walking it out to the nearest street corner and saying, ‘look what I’ve got’. “Are you from the future?” you might get asked. “No, I’m from just over there.” The future is just outside the range of what we automatically notice.
The unnoticed lab that Friedman, author of The World is Flat, has access to is simply more extensive travel, more diverse contacts, and a little publicly available information. Enough that, if you’re moving at a heartland of the US kind of pace, it’s like a dose of the future that brings you closer to the world’s actual speed.
More than anything, what Friedman captures is that, if you’re not thinking internationally, you don’t know what’s going on at all. If your mind is stuck in America, if you’re humming along to songs about how great we are, if you’re buying the rhetoric that our way of life is superior, that our colleges are the best, that everyone wants to be us, you’re sleepwalking through the present, and the future is simply imcomprehensible.
This isn’t a political post, it’s simply a recognition that, as we’ve said in earlier posts, and still keep saying, and find essential to successful entrepreneurship, the world is big. In other words, Friedman’s The World is Flat, is an excellent support for our own theorum, that there world is always outside the circle of our definition of it. Outside Friedman’s, outside mine, outside yours too. And when we accept that, sloughing off the bonds of artificial constraints and conventions, then we can begin to be truly creative in hypothesizing new endeavours.
- Nanotech opportunities abound in Oklahoma
- Four Oklahoma researchers attain nanotechnology grants
- Nanotechnology is being integrated into school programs
- State’s nanotechnology to be on display
- Five nanotechnology projects to receive funding from the Oklahoma Center
- State gives companies $1.5M for nanotechnology growth
- Why not nanotechnology?
- State starting to grasp nanotechnology applications
- Norman company garners $3M for research
- I must have mentioned it first in 1996, of course
- But it started to get mentioned by others 10mo later