A fellow passenger on a flight from New York to San Francisco was reading an interesting book called “The World is Flat: a brief history of the 21st century” (amazon). I’m on the same flight a few weeks later, so I picked up a copy to pass the time and have discovered one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!
The author, Thomas Friedman, works for the New York Times as their foreign affairs correspondent, and this book is packed full of references to interviews he has conducted with people ranging from the CEOs of multinational companies (e.g. the heads of Wipro and Infosys in India), all the way to small business owners in China and India.
His thesis is that the “world is flat” due to the convergence of factors ranging from the obvious: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of personal computing, to the seemingly boring: supply chain management by Walmart. Where the book excels is its engaging presentation; rather than adoptic a polemic, argumentative style, Friedman instead quotes interviews with someone relevant to the field at hand. Books like this often annoy me with technical inaccuracies when they cover topics such as open-source software, but Friedman has great discussions with people such as Brian Behlendorf and Craig Mundie!
I’m still working my way through it (next hop: NYC to SFO), but the first half has been fantastic and has really changed my views (read: woken me up) to just how integral out-sourcing is to successfully conduct business today. The book, much like the content it presents, is studiously up-to-date as of 2006, and the author apparently plans to continue to keep it as a “presentist” publication which conveys a sense of the current state of the world and not the past or future.