Ten World Flatteners

Published 27 Dec 2016

Essay told about the ten things that make the world flat are the following: the new age of creativity (Berlin Wall); the new age of connectivity; the work flow software; open-sourcing; outsourcing; offshoring; supply-chaining; in-sourcing; in-forming; and steroids. These world flatteners arise from innovations, political events and companies which created a flattening effect to the world (CapitolReader, 2005).

A flat world is defined as a “global, web-enabled platform” that has various forms for knowledge and work sharing “irrespective of time, distance, geography and…language” (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). Having a flat world can sometimes be advantageous, as Friedman believes that the ten flatteners evens out and equalizes the playing powers of the world (Lynn, 2007).

The New Age of Creativity (1989). This is Friedman’s first world flattener. The new age of creativity, which started in 1989, would refer to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the Windows PC. When the Berlin Wall came down, the balance of power in the world shifted to free markets (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). It also signaled a ripple effect, along with global thinking and knowledge exchange between countries (University of California, Berkeley, 2005).

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Additionally, this first flattener indicates the outbreak of freedom stimulating another outbreak (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). This process, according to Friedman, flattens societies. The Windows PC, on the other hand, enabled the sharing of content between countries. Internet has given people further reach and scale. Reach refers to the creation of content in many ways while scale refers to how people can share content with others (Lynn, 2007).

The New Age of Connectivity (Netscape 1995). This flattener is all about connection and flow of information (University of California, Berkeley, 2005). The emergence of the Netscape signaled the dot com arrival and government and private institutions’ investments in fiber optic cable to connect them to the world. This flattener, which was considered the first commercial browser, encouraged more users to use the Internet (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). Netscape has signaled the widespread sharing of information, and impacted sharing and imagination. As a result the web became indispensable for the millions of users, leading to the high demands for digital things. This flattener has started the Internet boom (CapitolReader, 2005).

Work Flow Software. With the vast possibilities that Internet offered to people to be able to connect with anyone across the world, people have wanted to create, shape and design, sell and purchase things. This need led to the programming functions so that sales, shipping and storage could be possible. It started with Microsoft, which enabled people to work “off the same screen and toolbar” (CapitolReader, 2005). This flattener has further improved the software and standards, thus enabling people to work together. Additionally, work flow software led to a global platform which made collaboration possible between people and countries (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007).

Programmers still improve their standards so that more software could be created to maximize the computers’ efficiency. This then would result to people working with “digitized data, words, music, and pictures, and shaped them into products” (Friedman, 2005, cited in Lynn, 2007). The advantage of this is that people and companies can easily send emails and documents and information with having to worry. The principle is that if everyone is connected to other people without worries, then information can be easily sent to others in a faster and more convenient way. Friedman stated that information can be “sent to the four corners of the world as never before” (Friedman, 2005, cited in Lynn, 2007).

Open-sourcing. With the advent of the Internet, source codes have become available to people. Knowing these enabled them to write anything from their software to dictionaries (CapitolReader, 2005). The free codes became available to almost anyone because inpiduals tend to openly share data with other people (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). This enabled many people to post anything on the Internet. This led to problems associated with the content of their postings. This has also resulted to the ethics debate. Additionally, this flattener brought attention to socialism versus capitalism (University of California, Berkeley, 2005).

Outsourcing (Y2K). This fifth flattener has led to the possibility of sourcing globally any service, business support operation, call center and knowledge work that can be easily digitized. Out-sourcing brought opportunities for people to find the smartest, most efficient, and cheapest providers. Additionally, our-sourcing was a result from the Y2K (year 2000) computer date crisis stemming from India (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). The computer date crisis began as the demand for the Y2K thrown America and India into a business relationship (CapitolReader, 2005).

Friedman has illustrated the outsourcing companies during the Y2K. These companies wanted their computers fixed as quickly as possible but at the lowest price. Outsourcing has enabled companies to become more profitable (Lynn, 2007).

Offshoring (China). Offshoring gave birth to the notion that all must run (University of California, Berkeley, 2005). This started in 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). This notion then stimulated offshoring. This process indicates that a small portion of a company can be run from another location. This was to take advantage of the cheap labor associated with this process. Aside from the cheap labor, running a portion or function of a company from another place is more efficient and is associated with lower taxes, thus enabling companies to be more competitive in the global market. Offshoring is not just about America’s moving to other locations. For instance, a plant worth $600 million was expanded in Alabama (CapitolReader, 2005).

Supply-chain (WalMart). Supply-chain is the seventh flattener according to Friedman. This indicates the worldwide collaboration between suppliers, retailers and customers. Friedman believes that this flattened the world because it adopted common standards, thus lowering border functions (CapitolReader, 2005).

WalMart was the pionner in the global supply chain efficiency. Friedman stated that people prefer to buy from supply chains because they deliver goods that have lower prices and tailored to the needs of the customers (Friedman, 2005, cited in Lynn, 2007). WalMart’s supply chain functions include delivering goods and products to different stores, and picking up products from the manufacturers on their way back to distribution center (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007).

In-sourcing. This is the eighth flattener which is about “synchronizing world” (University of California, Berkeley, 2005). In-sourcing has enabled companies to compete (CapitolReader, 2005). Moreover, customer supply chains were controlled by logistics giants, such as the United Parcel Service. UPS has provided companies with internal logistics support. For instance, Toshiba laptops are sent to UPS wherein an employee repairs the laptop. The UPS then sends the laptop to the customer (AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007).

In-forming. The demand for an easy access to information led to the creation of search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and MSN (CapitolReader, 2005; AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop, 2007). These search engines have made it so easy to search for information about anything in different languages. This then led to the creation of global communities that were otherwise not imagined before (CapitolReader, 2005).

Steroids. This tenth flattener refers to mobile, digital, and virtual innovations. These include cell phones, lap tops, VOIP and other wireless handheld devices which enabled connection at high speed (CapitolReader, 2005). These steroids have made possible the acquisition of information from anywhere and anytime (Lynn, 2007).


  • AIAA Career Enhancement Workshop. (2007). Succeeding in a flat world. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  • CapitolReader. (2005). Adaptation of the world is flat. Appalachian State University. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  • University of California Berkeley. (2005). Thomas Friedman, the World is Flat (2005). Retrieved February 20, 2009.
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