A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|WWW, modems and pizzaz|
|08/07/02 at 16:00:40|
|WWW, modems and pizzaz |
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 07, 2002 8:57:20 PM ]
NEW DELHI: Itís nice to hear the voice of innovation in the midst of politics, politics and politics. When we went to hear Tom Friedman, a fiery advocate of globalisation, talk today, we had only one doubt in our mind: would we be floored? We were.
Friedman, the author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalisation, is also The New York Times foreign affairs correspondent. He opened his lecture at the CII, in New Delhi, by saying that heís a tourist with an attitude. Living in a walless world, a world reshaped by the omnipresent worddwide web, is not at all easy. But Friedman is not archetypal conceptualiser, the ace theorist, or the strategy guru. Heís the discover-cum-raconteur.
Heís your, and my, favourite tourist. His insights on globalisation come from acute observations of cultures he constantly visits. Heís already seen how Bangalore is wiring India to globalisation and how political choices are shrinking even as the economy is enlarging. We capture some of Friedmanís thoughts to define the nuances of globalisation. Hereís slices from the anecdote-rich, soundbite-flavoured pizza that Tom dished out to Delhiites today.
Cuba & the Love Bug: The symbol of the cold war, says Friedman, was the (Berlin) Wall. The symbol of globalisation is WWW, or the World Wide Web. Everyoneís connected but nobody is quite in charge.
And if the Cuban Missile Crisis showed how vulnerable the world was in the Cold War, the Love Bug virus showed the weakness of the wired world. The virus destroyed millions of computers, corrupted data, and notched up massive losses.
Sumo wrestlers & sprinters: The Cold War was very similar to sumo wrestling where two huge, fat, guys fight each other out. There is a lot of ceremony involved. There are colourful costumes, rice-throwing, etc. But the actual fighting is limited to one of the wrestlers throwing the opponent out of the ring.
In globalisation, it's like a 100 metre dash run over and over and over again. Everybody is trying to outsprint everybody else, where winning the race on any given day only guarantees that you can participate in the race on the next day.
Missiles & modems: In the Cold War, the issue was: how big is your missile? The question in the globalised economy is: how fast is your modem? Connectivity and the speed of transmitting or receiving information on the Net will now decide your future, says Friedman.
Einstein & Moore: If (Albert) Einstein's E=MC2 was relevant in the Cold War days, now itís (Gordon) Mooreís law which is the most important. The speed of microchips will become doubly faster every two years, and thatís a reality in the globalised world.
Superempowered individuals: They now pose a threat to the old norms. Millions of e-mails can make the world sit up, notice, and react to landmines. One superempowered individual can stand up to megacorps. But superempowered angry men like Osama Bin Laden can pose a grave threat to the global economy.
Three democraticisations: Take democratisation of technology, the democratisation of finance, and the democratisation of information. These are the forces that are shaping globalisation.
Turbo speed: In a global economy, it is extremely important to move at turbo speed from innovation to commoditisation. In the new world, megacorps are also in each otherís businesses. Sony is in digital cameras; soís Kodak. Compaq is in biz solutions; so is PWC.
Golden straitjacket: The new political garment that every country has to put on now is the golden straightjacket. Margaret Thatcher was the original seamstress of this concept, while Ronald Reagan provided the buttons and the other accessories.
Electronic herd: In the new supermarket of globalsiation, the electronic herd rules. When bonds are downgraded, capital flees. We have seen that happen in Indonesia where a political regime was changed. Itís a phenomenon that governments have to contend with.
To top it, pizza is now the most favourite dish in the world, says Friedman. Itís basically a piece of bread on which peopleócoming from diverse backgroundsó can add toppings of their choice. Everybody can make their own pizza. That is how globalisation should be, with one underlying principle, but with regional front-ends.
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board