It is amazing to see how much the world had progressed just between the tapings of these two discussions. Charles Leadbeater spoke in 2005, and many of the things he predicted had happened by 2008, the time of Thomas Friedman gave his talk on his book, The World is Flat. Both speakers discuss how the way the world creates and interacts with one another was changing and continues to change even now.
Leadbeater discussed how some of the most innovative inventions of our time (i.e. the mountain bike) came not from big corporations, but from the consumer seeing a need, and creating a solution. He spoke about the traditional idea of a creative person, and how that perception should change, because our world is changing. New ideas don’t just come from this niche group of people, they come from collaboration made possible by the Internet. The consumers and readers don’t just want what we can give them, the Internet gave them the desire for a voice and a dialog with the professionals who produce the content. This new technology, according to Leadbeater, turns users into producers and consumers into designers. Passionate amateurs are using new tools to create products that companies cannot.
Fast-forward three years, and Friedman gives a talk at MIT about the third edition of his book based on this very concept. He sites four key “flatteners” that created the technological and working world that existed in 2008. The first of these flatteners was the release of the PC, which gave individuals the ability to author content in the digital world. The second was the company, Netscape going public. This company gave us the browser which gave us tools to bring the Internet to life. For the first time everyone was everyone else’s neighbor; everyone could send, receive, and share content. The third “flattener” was when everyone’s PCs actually became compatible to one another. Before, their was the potential for connection, after the programs were given the ability to talk to one another, everything changed.
“When the world was round, you downloaded as an individual. Now that the world is flat, individuals can upload and globalize their own content.”
The fourth “flattener” came in the form of convergence. Now, everything that could be done, would be done, and traditional media and companies were left reeling in the consequences of this open market.
So, seven years later, how flat is the world? We would probably venture to say, as flat as it could possibly be. With the addition of countless new platforms in the form of social media and more. Not to mention, the addition of smart phones on the market. That invention took the freedom to globalize our own content mobile, something that would have been unprecedented when Netscape went public in 1995. However, while we may think that the world could not get any flatter, I’m sure that the minds of 2008 thought the same thing. So, who are we to say that we are at the top of the technological ladder? No one. We are no one. Everyday, new technology is released from countless sources. Who knows where the world will be in seven years. For us as producers of content for the web, this simply means we must keep up.In he is horizontal, rather than vertical framework, have more opportunity for success than ever before, however, the downside to this accessibility is the countless number of people who also have access to this technology who are just as good and better than you at what you do. In relation to this class, we have to be the best we can possibly be, and follow all of the rules of SEO and beyond to be noticed in this privileged, flattened world.