There is value in every view of the world, whether seen as flat, spiky, or another shape altogether. Depending on where one stands, the shape may even shift from one moment to the next.
Friedman’s (2007) and Florida’s (2005) flat and spiky worlds, respectively, are not necessarily opposed to each other. If one steps far enough back, a spiky surface may appear flat, and this is what Friedman did. In discussion of several “flatteners” and the effects of these, a point offered in the third chapter seems paramount to Friedman’s (2007) message. The convergence of several flattening factors has allowed for access to opportunity that is closer to equal. The world is flat because “talent has become more important than geography.” This does not claim that talent does not still choose to cluster or that certain outputs may be more readily found grouped. It does not say geography is irrelevant, but it is no longer crucial to success. If one has reasonable access to a computer and the Internet, endless possibilities are present (Reynolds, 2016).
Stepping closer to the world, and looking at specific factors, one may observe the spikes of which Florida (2005) spoke. I am confident that people have long migrated over centuries for a variety of reasons. I am one. I moved to Honolulu for the beach, to Seattle for communications work, and to New York City just because it was New York. I agree that economies of scale are more readily available to some. Economic output specifically is not flat, and perhaps never will be, as people continue to centralize to achieve specific goals. For example, living in Boise now, I see the occasional area startup leave Idaho for Silicon Valley. Those departing companies voice that when sizeable funding is required, they must move closer to the source. I do not know whether this is actually true, but I do not discount it. Fundamentally though, perception will always play a role in human decision making. Also, certain things are easier for established industries. If, for example, a global banking institution leverages economies of scale to innovate and deliver a new mobile banking technology, this large institution is currently better positioned to execute than a singular person developing a related offering in a remote cabin in Alaska. This is factually the case with regard to distribution, while the opportunity itself is still open to both.
Bostrom (2015) advised that to the challenge of creating a super intelligence, one must also add the challenge of safe design of that super intelligence. It must be built to value human values. This discussion of AI supports evolution, where we reach an increasingly liquid state. Friedman (2007) and Florida (2005) both analyzed the world the way it was at the time of writing, while Bostrom considered a reality much farther ahead. Yet all three sources have relevance. Friedman declared the world flat by describing the advances that have made it so. One may reasonably expect future advances will contribute to the flattening effect. Florida’s spiky world with respect to economic and social aspects will likely remain spiky in those areas for some time to come. Populations will continue to migrate whether out of perceived or true need. Bostrom addressed what still lies waiting, offering a critical warning for what could occur within the next 30 to 40 years.
Putting aside multiple perspectives, technology has undeniably flattened the world. While it serves to expand opportunity for all, it also requires an adjustment to workplace expectations. There is great value to be attained in virtual, collaborative environments. None of my communications team, for example, sits in the same state as I do. I feel nonetheless completely connected. I have new tools at my disposal each year, new audiences, and new ways to communicate. However, with greater access, there is a need for greater awareness. It is easier to reach people, and it is easier to make a mistake that has instant, far reaching ramifications. Today’s organizations need have security mindful, well considered, strategic guidelines in place to help team members navigate the ever flattening, connected, “leaderful” world.
Bostrom, N. (2015, March). What happens when our computers get smarter that we are? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_bostrom_what_happens_when_our_computers_get_smarter_than_we_are
Florida, R. (2005, October). The world is spiky. The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/images/issues/200510/world-is-spiky.pdf
Friedman, T. (2007). The world is flat. Retrieved from http://www.wikisummaries.org/wiki/The_World_Is_Flat
Reynolds, J. (2016, January 24). Once homeless, Boise man creates video game outside library, resets life. Idaho Statesman. Retrieved from http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/business/article56427875.html