After considering the first week’s readings and the videos that we were instructed to watch, I am very hopeful about the practical uses of the knowledge and insights that we will gain in this class. I had read previous versions of Friedman’s book and found it to be entertaining and enlightening. The summary that was provided for us provided little that was new in my opinion. However, I found the article by Florida to represent a new perspective to which I had not been previously exposed. The “spiky world” and its consequences are hard to deny based on the volume of demographic data and the way in which it is presented. In spite of the hard evidence that Florida presents it does not eliminate the practical truth of Friedman’s suggestion that in a flattened world more and more people can participate in the world’s economy in ways that were previously denied based on location.
I believe that the two points of view should be synthesized to get a more complete picture of the realities that exist in today’s world. The lack of a spike in Australia does not keep a software engineer from collaborating with colleagues in South Africa (another spikeless location) to generate new products that can be sold and consumed around the world. Friedman’s point that the tools and mechanisms for distribution are available throughout the world is quite valid and does not change because of the lack of spikes in various parts of the world.
Listening to Shirky’s talk leads me to believe that he would land on the side of Friedman. The open participation that Shirky mentions is clearly a result of the “ten forces that flattened the world” mentioned by Friedman. Florida paints a picture of a world of increasingly high peaks that make it harder to get out of the deepening valleys. Shirky gave evidence that even though China would generally show up as a “valley” in Florida’s paradigm, the reality is that through the technologies that have flattened the world the people in the valleys of China were able to make an impact on the government of China which was accustomed to controlling the flow of information by establishing their own wall around their people. These walls (or peaks) proved to be easily scalable with the right types of technology.
A reasonable question to be asked is “are these concepts still relevant?” Even before I knew we were to write about this question I was thinking to myself that this data – especially the Atlantic Monthly article from Florida – was quite old given the rapid pace of change in today’s world. I did investigate Florida’s website http://www.creativeclass.com which would be a worthwhile resource for anyone in this class. However, there was no follow-up on this “spiky world” paradigm that I could find. I hope to do some more research on this in the upcoming days. I do find Florida’s work intriguing and worthy of our consideration even though the data used is nearly 10 years old.