WIRED: What do you mean the world is flat? FRIEDMAN: I was in India interviewing Nandan Nilekani at Infosys. And he said to me, «Tom, the playing field is being leveled.» Indians and Chinese were going to compete for work like never before, and Americans weren’t ready. I kept chewing over that phrase – the playing field is being leveled – and then it hit me: Holy mackerel, the world is becoming flat. Several technological and political forces have converged, and that has produced a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration without regard to geography or distance – or soon, even language.
So, we’re talking about globalization enhanced by things like the rise of open source? This is Globalization 3.0. In Globalization 1.0, which began around 1492, the world went from size large to size medium. In Globalization 2.0, the era that introduced us to multinational companies, it went from size medium to size small. And then around 2000 came Globalization 3.0, in which the world went from being small to tiny. There’s a difference between being able to make long distance phone calls cheaper on the Internet and walking around Riyadh with a PDA where you can have all of Google in your pocket. It’s a difference in degree that’s so enormous it becomes a difference in kind.