One of the books I missed out on during the “missing years” caused by Lucire stafﬁng issues was Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat. I’m remedying that now and have started on the updated edition, where Friedman discusses the three stages of globalization. I feel a bit in catch-up mode.
Globalization 2·0, he submits, ended in 2000, a period where corporations globalized, rather than nations. Globalization 3·0, which begun that year, saw the globalizing of individuals, not just outsourcing to the Asian subcontinent, but also the empowerment of al-Qaeda and other disenchanted men and women.
I don’t disagree with this assessment, but I wonder when the forces began emerging. I believe they began happening in the 1980s: the kids who saw War Games in the cinema dreamed of reaching further than their neighbourhoods using their modems, for instance. To a child, that ﬁlm had plenty of verisimilitude, and we missed the preachy ending.
When the technology became reliable enough for us to start communicating across continents with our personal computers, then the empowerment began. It didn’t have to wait till email addresses became commonplace: those who really wanted to ﬁnd that brave, new future were doing all of this through bulletin boards. We saw our father’s telex machines and telecopiers—the faxes of the generation before—and adapted the ideas to our own homes.
When you consider that many inventions take 20 years to mainstream, Friedman is spot on.
There must have been enough of us reaching that one point in the late 1990s and early 2000s for there to be this paradigm shift and it had to have happened gradually. The empowerment happened because we willed it to. What we didn’t foresee is how the baddies could use it, too, as we were far too idealized—and that was what led to that crazy dot com boom. It wasn’t money; it was the idea that the world could be put together. ‘One fashion world, one fashion magazine,’ I once proclaimed, while ironically lecturing on the other hand about nation brands.
But those ideals, perhaps frustrated as less idealistic people come online, remain to some extent. The break-down of the nation state may mean nation brands will become little more than stereotypes, their original meanings lost as corporations and individuals ﬁnd other identiﬁers. I haven’t got to the part in Thomas’s book, but from the jacket I understand he believes local cultures will rise. He may well be right: as we become more mobile, too, we must ﬁnd something to cling on to, as nationhood means less: a look at the international composition of the America’s Cup teams suggests that very clearly. Teams tend to be global and as we seek differentiation, we may ﬁnd that from the people nearest us.
Ten to one the boys at the Cup will be talking about sailing in Waitemata Harbour, whether they are with Team New Zealand or Alinghi.
PS.: So what happening today will be mainstream by 2027?—JY Posted by Jack Yan, 14:25
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