Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's a Flat Flat World

Reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat- centered on how the lowering of trade, political, and technological barriers now allow people to do business with others located all over the world.

For me, one of the most interesting implications of this gloabl connectivity is how the time zone difference between the different regions can be leveraged and taken advantage for increased productivity and efficiency. Friedman cites US hospitals that, overnight, send X-rays to India where they can be read by trained radiologists during normal (Indian) working hours.

I've experienced this sort of time-shifting first hand. My NTT colleague Yuzo Koga and I are co-editors of a specification within the Liberty Alliance's Web Services Framework. The fact that Koga-san and I are on opposite sides/ends of the world (he in Tokyo, myself in Ottawa) proves a blessing whenever we are faced with an editing crunch. When one of us finishes for the day, he simply sends the latest version of the spec to the other, who is just beginning their work day. There is little dead time where the spec is not being actively worked on. The 13 hours between us allow us to work "together" far closer than we ever could in the same city.

It does seem ironic that the book's chosen metaphor for the new geography is one that would actually make impossible this phenomena - if the world really were flat, then there would be no time zones to shift work through.

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