Does Technology Define a Flat World?

At MindCamp 3.0, the first session I attended was a session on the flattening of the world. This was an interesting discussion that I hope we can continue at MindCamp4.0

Before I got there though……Several people were blogging about this book, and they began to apply it to different theories (Flat IT, Flat Marketing, Long Flat tail, Flat Mouse Pad), of course I enjoyed reading through them and because of these discussions decided to get a copy and read through it. After a quick couple of weeks of Flat World on a Flat media that my 8 yr old loved in the car (yeah he’s a little wierd at times) I finished the “book” and wanted to bring up a point that I talked about in the MindCamp discussion…

Technology enables flat world things to happen, it does not MAKE them happen.

This is important, it seems a lot of people have missed this point. Somewhere along the way the idea that Flat World thinking was created by technology. The idea that the convergence of all these technologies created the idea in people’s minds that they could outsource to other countries and find cheaper labor somewhere else is kind of ridiculous….Humans have been thinking this way as long as they have lived, why work for six hours to make ten dollars when you can work for zero hours and make five? This is a very simple theory, if I have five jobs that pay ten dollars and require three hours of work, I have a lot of difficult work ahead of me….roughly fifteen hours of work for fifty dollars….but….if I have fifteen jobs that pay five dollars and require an hour to manage the outsourcing….. I have time for golfing…..with roughly seventy five dollars in my pocket. I hire my kids to clean the cat litter, set the dinner table, clean up after the dog, etc, etc, I hire the auto dealership to change my oil (I tried and broke it), etc. I hire out any work that I can that is cheaper and easier for someone else to do and I did that before the flat world.

The point that a lot of people seemed to miss is that all of these converged technologies, political environments, and economic changes in the world only enabled the same outsource model to happen on a new field. This is important to understand for people who’s jobs are being outsource and for people who are looking to outsource. The idea is simply that anyone, anywere in the world can outsource simple tasks to anyone else, anywhere else in the world because it is now easier to do. There are technologies to make it easier and there are swarms of people looking to take on all of these little responsibilities. Most of these outsourcers are becoming the best of breed at certain tasks and are therefore becoming “the” place to outsource to if you need the task done as cheeply and efficiently as possible.


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