Education, connectiveness are making the difference

I am currently reading “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas L. Friedman. It is a fascinating book with lots of great examples of how nations and businesses are jumping ahead by connecting with people.
He notes near the beginning that oceans have always been our barriers to doing business, as has been the ability of businesses to quickly communicate.
We in North America consider ourselves to be well-connected. Yet in a country such as Ghana, the people in that Third World nation have better cell phone service than the people of Canada. Today, Bangalore India does a huge amount of software development for the world.
The growth of that area of India in software development has been so huge that companies such as Microsoft are spending billions of dollars expanding to that region of the world.
What Friedman pointed out that because of its connectedness, it is as easy to have an X-ray or CAT scan read in India by an expert as it is in North America.
One of the things that surprised me in reading the book was the amount of outsourcing to India for personal services such as tax preparation.
The book shows how the playing field is being leveled between “have” nations and “have not” nations. Education and connectiveness are making the difference.
If we travel to many European countries we are likely to find that our laptop computers work anywhere because of the wireless networks built through the country.
We have some regions like that in Ontario. If you travel the GO train to work in Toronto, you can connect and do work as you travel. Or if you travel between Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal on the CN you can connect with your computer the whole distance.
But in sections of those large cities you may have trouble connecting with your cell phone all the time.
The book is all about the encounters that Friedman has made in traveling around the world discovering how much technology has changed our lives in the last 10 years.
Today you can search for a person’s address if you know their name and the city they live in. You will also probably get their telephone number through Google.
You can go to Google Earth and look down from space to the street you live in. In Fort Frances, it is a little bit fuzzy, but in some cities you can almost make out the people.
We have gone from slow dial-up speed for computers to high-speed connections, yet a woman calling me on behalf of Canada’s largest phone company assured me that shortly (if I lived in Toronto) my Internet speed would become even faster.
Of course, that is a long way off in the horizon for this area. But if we are to grow and prosper, the government must be committed to providing us with the same quality of services and connections that many poorer nations are now enjoying.
If you get the chance, pick up a copy of Friedman’s book.

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