Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times "Foreign Affairs" columnist and author of "The World Is Flat
The World is Flat
A amazing book which gave me a perspective to why and how of the Flat world.
What was I doing when I came to know the world is flat? hmm.. Do I have an answer to this question?
let me try...
My first brush with one of the 10 flattener as Tom describes happened when I was waiting for my IIT-JEE result in summer of 1999. I remember to have visited a friends place who ran an computer training institute. I was impatient, as always I am, to know my JEE result. At that time my friend dialed up to the net and connected to www.yahoo.com to search website of IIT. It did not made sense to me then as the concept of internet seemed western while the name yahoo seemed kind of Hindi word!! I did had some exposure to computers then as I had learned some GW basic, logo and game of chess quite some time back, but this was altogether different. The first time I had ever used a computer was sometime in 1995-96 when I went to my uncle's place and played a game of chess on his machine. I specially went to his place some 100 miles off my town to see his computer. At that time it was just an amusing machine which had more of gaming utility. I was unaware of the potential it contained.
Well the JEE result came and I made it to IIT Madras chemical engineering. There in my first semester we had a course on Pascal which we heard was outdated and wasn't that appealing. But it gave a chance to go to computer center which has these green screen Unix-AIX IBM dumb terminals. I guess most of the learning came from peers just by mutual sharing and competing, hacking accounts or just getting sadistic pleasure of doing a remote kill -9 -1 on machines and logging people off unaware.
The internet was limited with only 2 terminals available in library which were always crowded. I remember getting up early on weekends to rush to library to get a hand on one of those terminals. It was at that time, sometime in August 1999 that I opened my first email account at www.hotmail.com only to forget the password the very next day. Those days the net was so slow that it used to take forever for even a page to show up.
Then we used to hear all around of Y2K problem and the big challenge it presented to the computing industry. It came and went mostly un-noticed in IIT campus but we saw that the jobs for our graduating seniors were great and everyone from computer science to civil engineering was joining a software company.
Suddenly as the millennium changed, there were computers all around the IIT and we all became expert users overnight. I do not recollect how this change happened so fast but it did happened for good. And thanks to a big donation from Mr Gururaj Deshpande that IITM suddenly went overdrive on computers and internet bandwidth. It made me a virtual global citizen which I am today for almost 20 hours in a day.
Then when it was the time for us to graduate, we came to know that dot com bubble has gone burst and many Indians are returning back from US after loosing their jobs. Our seniors who were placed with software companies got regret letters from them communicating their inability to offer them a job. Some companies even put their shutters down or disappeared entirely. It was a bad time and somehow the perception became that software companies are unstable and a risky proposition. Better find your branch jobs. Even the IT salaries took a big dip and it seemed that our seniors graduated with almost double average salaries. I find these trend even today in IIT campus where people do not have core software companies as their employer of choice. I feel companies like Infosys are also responsible for it to some extent as they offer a salary package almost one third of campus average and popularized the word tech-coolie.
Had I knew about these driving forces of the flat world or had Tom was not sleeping when the world went flat, I would have long back understood the issue and the opportunity that came hidden along. This book really helped to get it right for me now.
I now understand the actual drivers of this software (IT/ITES) boom in India. The opportunity it presents and excitement it carries.
It was indeed insightful to know the importance of 11/9/89 in the flat world. Else it was just a historical date! Actually I know most of these things as I saw them happening, but I was just a kid then unable to reason them out. And when I was able to reason them out while I was in IIT, these issues from current affairs had became history and our IITs do not teach history.
Anyway I feel very obliged to Tom for writing this what I feel is the best book among some 50 odd management/business related books that I have read till now. Thanks Tom.. I am really flattened.