Thomas Friedman (2007) makes a compelling case for the flattening of the world in his book; however, given the current levels of connectivity in the world, I claim that it is still round and becoming rounder by the day. When one reflects on their contacts and relationships, these are often visually displayed as interlocking circles and spheres. It is where and how these circles overlap and collide is where the While Friedman provides a solid argument for why this should redefine the world as flat, what has happened in an elimination of geographic, socioeconomic and racial barriers. Today these circles bring Muslims and Christians, Americans and Europeans, and rich and poor together through the use of digital tools. Tools which are now available to nearly everyone in the world. If not right now, then in the very near future.
Richard Florida (2005) argued that the world is not flat but describes it as spiky. These spikes are created through the lens of economic prosperity and population density. Globalization requires that countries and regions are connected with one another to thrive and remain competitive. Florida’s spiky interpretation goes a bit down a rabbit hole as the spikes of the world decrease based on the lens through which he observes. His final map with the least spikes that define scientific discoveries provides a very limited view and disregards the reliance of turning scientific discovery into mass market products and services. For this to happen, the discoveries must rely on the globalization to become adopted by mainstream consumers.
So, the world is round because of the vast connections that have been created through the ten forces that made the world flat for Friedman, such as infrastructure, globalization, and people to provide and share the content. A great example of this info sharing comes from the many TEDx events held throughout the world and the vast library of these talks shared online. At the opening of TED2016, Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots (CEO) of X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory for building ideas, described how his company is working to provide WiFi in the most remote places of the world—using balloons. X allows for super geniuses to dream of the endless possibilities of science and technology. X also allows for the celebration of mistakes because without the mistakes, the dreams will not continue to thrive.
It is true, we are on the verge of creating the machine super intelligence as described by Nick Bostrom (2015). IBM’s Watson is currently working alongside physicians to diagnose and provide treatment options for cancer patients (2013). We still need the most important force that makes our world round, and that is people. People need to create the infrastructure, create the content, share the content, connect with others, dream and fail. That is why the world is round to me.