The World Is Flat is an international bestselling book by Thomas Friedman that analyzes globalization, primarily in the early 21st century. The title is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field in terms of commerce, where all competitors have an equal opportunity.
Globalization became more prominent during the last decades. Friedman argues that globalization made the world smaller and flatter, allowing all countries to take chance of the available opportunities equally.
As Friedman describes in “The World is Flat” there are three eras of globalization and ten flatteners which made the world smaller, making it easier to communicate and share our knowledge. This paper deals with the flattener number 2 i.e.; “When the NetScape went Public” and associated developments after 2003 till date.
Thomas Lauren Friedman is an American journalist, columnist and author and has won the Pulitzer Prize three times. In his famous book “The World is Flat” he identifies three eras of globalization.
The first era, called “Globalization 1.0”,between the years 1492, when Columbus set out to discover a new trade route to the New World, and 1800, made the world fall in size from large to medium. During this period, the strength of a country was based on the number of horsepower or the number of steam engines owned, compared with other countries.
The second period – “Globalization 2.0”, between the years 1800 and 2000, decreased the size of the world, from medium to low. Multinational companies were the integration force, and the power was given to a company by the level of innovation in the field of machinery and equipment.
Last era – “Globalization 3.0” – began around the year 2000. If the first two periods led to globalization at the country level and, later, at the company level, this new period favorized reduction to a very small world, flattening the playing field and putting the individual in the centre(Friedman, 2007, pp 25-26).
Globalization has been maintained by the action of some “flattening factors” that favoured the levelling of the World and the emergence of some opportunities that could increase welfare if successfully exploited. One of these factors is the event on 09/08/1995, the Netscape Company was to give life the Internet by creating the first commercially and well known web browser, facilitating web browsing culture definition to general public.
The main objective of this paper is to investigate the contribution and after effects of flattener number 2 in make the world flatten during the period 2003 to 2012.
Data for this report were gathered from 3rd December 2012 to 18th January 2013. The data was collected by research online and in college library.
The procedure involved in analysis of the facts and authentication of information given in each report and article available in online and in college library. The main agenda is to capture all the contribution and after effects of Netscape internet explorer in making the world flatten from 2003 to till date.
Flattener #2 is shifting us from a PC-based platform to an Internet-based platform. The concept of World Wide Web was developed by British computer scientist Berners-Lee. Berners-Lee is someone who certainly helped to flatten the world.
Berners-Lee explains that the web is an imaginary space of information. On the Net, we will find computers and the connections are cables between computers. On the Web, we will find documents, videos, sounds etc like information and the connections are hypertext links. The Web exists because of programs which communicate between computers on the Net. People are really interested in information; they don’t really want to have to know about computers and cables.
In the early 1990s, Berners-Lee created the programming language for writing WebPages called HTML. The 1st website by Berners-Lee was at http://info.cern.ch and was 1st put up on August 6, 1991. It was the 1st website ever. It explained how the WWW worked, how one could own a browser, and how setting up a Web server.
1st widely popular commercial browser was created by a tiny start-up company in Mountain View, California, called Netscape. Netscape went public on August 9, 1995 at the price of $28. Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by “early adopters and geeks” to something that made the Internet accessible to everyone from five-year-olds to ninety-five-year-olds. The digitization that took place meant that everyday occurrences such as words, files, films, music, and pictures could be accessed and manipulated on a computer screen by all people across the world. The more alive the Internet became, the more different people wanted to do different things on the Web. So people demanded computers, s/w and telecommunications networks. This demand was satisfied by the rollout of Windows 95. Windows 95 become the operating system used by most people worldwide.
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Friedman recognizes the publication of Netscape and Windows 95 as a huge flattening force. What Netscape did was bring a new killer app -the browser – to this installed base of PCs, making the computer and its connectivity inherently more useful for millions of people. This in turn set off an explosion in demand for all things digital and sparked the Internet boom. This development, in turn, wired the whole world together, and without, anyone really planning it, made Bangalore a suburb of Boston. Now Netscape is known as Firefox.
The second flattener gave people a way to cheaply distribute and retrieve content digitally. Basically, the second flattener consisted of 3 events:
(1) The Internet emerged (low-cost connectivity among PC users);
(2) The World Wide Web emerged (PC users can post their digital content for anyone to access); and
(3) The commercial Web Browser emerged (PC users can retrieve documents or Web pages stored in Web sites).
Everyone could use the Internet, thus consumers wanted more to do on the Internet. One of the benefits of Netscape was it was available to everyone and people didn’t have to continually pay for it (after they bought the browser). The Internet boom leads to over-investments. For instance, the fiber-optic cable companies invested in making mass amounts of fiber-optic systems. The companies didn’t realize that almost everyone was using the Internet and they didn’t need to make anymore fiber-optic systems.
Netscape was the first highly successful browser, and it could work on an IBM PC, an Apple MacIntosh, or a Unix computer, insuring that people could communicate with each other no matter what computer they were on. Netscape’s browser made millions of existing computers and connectivity much more useful, and reinforced the free flow of information. Freidman concludes that browser technology was one of the most important inventions in modern history. Together with the Internet and Web, Netscape allowed more people to communicate and interact with each other than had ever happened in the world before.
There is an interesting quote – “when you give people a new way to connect with other people, they will punch through any technical barrierâ€¦people are wired to want to connect with other people and they find it objectionable not to be able to.” (Marc Andreessen : The World is Flat : 65)
Let’s look at each one of these developments.
Marc Andreessen, a brilliant young computer scientist, developed the 1st really effective, easy-to-use Web browser, called Mosaic. His company called Mosaic Communications later renamed to Netscape communications.
Marc Andreessen did not invent the Internet or the World Wide Web, but he certainly played a historic role in helping to bring them alive.
Netscape’s 1st commercial browser was released in December 1994, and within a year it completely dominated the market. People were downloading it for 3-month trials. Thus Netscape played important flattening role.
In addition to the Netscape browser, other standardizations further simplified communications among computers.
Berners Lee and other scientists had developed a series of “open protocols” mainly FTP, HTTP,HTML,SSL,SMTP,POP, and TCP/IP. Together they form a system for transporting data around the Internet and World Wide Web in a relatively secure manner, no matter what network your company or household has or what computer or cell phone or handheld device you are using. Each protocol had a different function. TCP/IP was the basic plumbing of the Internet, or the basic railroad tracks, on which everything else above it was built and moved around. FTP moved files. SMTP and POP moved e-mail messages, so that they could be written and read on different e-mail systems. HTML allowed ordinary people to author Web pages. HTTP enabled people to connect to HTML documents on Web. SSL provide security for Web-based transactions.
By the late 1990s the Internet computing platform became integrated. Soon anyone was able to connect with anyone else anywhere on any machine. This integration was a huge flattener. Generally, people take long time to change their habits and learn new technology. But in the case of Internet, they did it quickly and ten years later there were 800 million people on the internet, because people always want to connect with other people.
“People will change their habits quickly when they have a strong reason to do so, and people have an innate urge to connect with other people.” (Marc Andreessen : The World is Flat : 65)
Flattener 2 is responsible for the birth of AOL (Netscape was sold to AOL), newer versions of PC-Windows, Google, Yahoo and dot.com boom.
Netscape going public stimulated a lot of things. one is, degree of overinvestment. Every sillier and sillier idea got funded.
Digitization made investors to believe that demand for internet usage and internet-related products would be infinite. Digitization is a magic process by which words, music, data, films, files and pictures are turn into bits and bytes- combinations of 1s and 0s- that can be manipulated on a computer screen, stored on a microprocessor, or transmitted over satellites and fiber-optic lines. Thus mail digitized as e-mail, camera to digital camera, buy and browse books digitally on amazon.com, digital library, digitized music..
In a news conference at 1999 World Economic Forum, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told that these Internet stocks going to drive innovation faster and faster. Gates compared Internet to the gold rush.
The Internet stock boom causes overinvestment in fiber-optic cable companies. They laid massive amounts of fiber-optic cable on land and under the oceans, which reduced cost of making a phone call or transmitting data anywhere in the world.
The 1st installation of a fiber-optic system was in 1977.Optcal cables can carry digitized packets of information over long distances. Fiber-optic cable is used for secure communications, because it is very difficult to tap. The capacity of all the already installed fiber cables just keeps growing, making it cheaper and easier to transmit voices and data to any part of the world. The first transoceanic fiber-optic cables were laid between the United States, United Kingdom and France in 1988. The first transpacific cables were laid down in 1989 and connected the U.S., Hawaii, Guam and Japan. Fiber optic cables made it possible for Web users to connect and communicate with people at long distances. The installation of under-water cables was the first step to uniting all corners of the world. The perception of distance became much smaller. Now anyone could get on the Internet and communicate with someone half way around the world in less than seconds. Not only could you just talk to other countries, but with advancements in computer capabilities, you could also have a face to face conversation with them. The world became much smaller and flatter.
*Smith, D. R. (2004). Digital Transmission Systems. Norwell, Ma: Kluwer Academic Publishing.
The dot-com bubble was created by over-estimated values of Internet companies. Everyone jumped on the band wagon when the expected profits seemed to just keep growing. People were investing with the faith that one day those companies would reach their quota and so much more. In 2000 to 2001, the bubble burst, which resulted in a drop in investments and economic growth (Becker, 2008).* One of the biggest fall-outs was in the business of fiber optic cables. Everyone underestimated the efficiency and capabilities of fiber optic cables. When they turned out to have a much larger capacity than companies needed it became practically free to use them. This created opportunities for countries who couldn’t afford to buy the cables outright. India was one such country that used the access of the Internet to globalize very fast in order to catch up with the rest of the world, and catch up they did.
*Becker, A. (2008). Electronic commerce: concepts, methodologies, tools and applications (Vol. I). Hershey, Pa: Information Science Reference.
It also allowed the telecommunications giants such as the Baby Bells and AT&T to provide both phone service and infrastructure for internet.
Global crossing was founded in 1977 by Gary Winnick and went public the next year. The telecom deregulation of 1996 allowed local exchange carriers to build their own data transmission capacities.
The Internet-e-mail-browser phase flattened the earth a little bit more. In short, the Apple-PC-Windows phase and Netscape browsing-e-mail phase together enabled communication and interaction with people anywhere on the planet.
Now thanks to the internet, we don’t have to travel distances to meet face to face since we are interconnected with everyone everywhere.
The day Netscape went public opened up the World Wide Web so that almost anyone could navigate the Internet without problems. This user-friendly browser made accessing the plethora of information on the Internet open to everyone. There existed browsers for searching the web prior to Netscape, but they were not as simple and easy to use. Now anyone who could read had access to the internet. Knowledge is power, and people got addicted to this easy learning tool. It gave individuals the power to take their lives into their own hands. The dot-com boom created a new and very different world. A world runs more by innovative individuals than by corporations.
The birth of Mozilla
On February 23, 1998, Netscape Communications Corporation created a project called Mozilla to co-ordinate the development of the Mozilla Application Suite, the open source version of Netscape’s internet software, Netscape Communicator.
Mozilla is a free software community best known for producing the Firefox web browser. The Mozilla community uses, develops, spreads and supports Mozilla products and works to advance the goals of the Open Web described in the Mozilla Manifesto.
In addition to the Firefox browser, Mozilla also produces Firefox Mobile, the Firefox OS mobile operating system, the bug tracking system Bugzilla and a number of other projects.
Originally, Mozilla aimed to be a technology provider for companies, such as Netscape, who would commercialize their open source code. When Netscape’s parent company AOL drastically scaled back its involvement with Mozilla in July 2003, the Mozilla Foundation was launched as the legal steward of the project. Soon after, Mozilla deprecated the Mozilla Suite in favour of creating independent applications for each function, primarily the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client, and moved to supply them direct to the public.
Recently, Mozilla’s activities have expanded to include Firefox on mobile platforms, primarily Android, a mobile OS called Firefox OS, a web-based identity system called Mozilla Persona and a marketplace for HTML5 applications.
In a report released in November of 2012, Mozilla reported that their total revenue for 2011 was $163 million, which was up 33% from $123 million in 2010. Mozilla noted that roughly 85% of their revenue comes from their contract with Google.
Introduction of new free web browser – Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser developed for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux and Android coordinated by Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards.
Gecko is a free and open source layout engine used in many applications developed by Mozilla. It is designed to support open Internet standards, and is used by different applications to display web pages and, in some cases, an application’s user interface itself. Gecko offers a rich programming API that makes it suitable for a wide variety of roles in Internet-enabled applications, such as web browsers, content presentation, and client/server.
Gecko is written in C++ and is cross-platform, and runs on various operating systems including BSDs, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, OS/2, AIX, OpenVMS, and Microsoft Windows. Its development is now overseen by the Mozilla Foundation and is licensed under version 2 of the Mozilla Public License.
Gecko is the third most-common layout engine on the World Wide Web,
As of October 2012, Firefox has approximately 20% to 24% of worldwide usage share of web browsers, making it the second or third most widely used web browser, according to different sources. According to Mozilla, Firefox counts with over 450 million users around the world. The browser has had particular success in Indonesia, Germany, and Poland, where it is the most popular browser with 65%, 47% and 47% of the market share, respectively.
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The Firefox project began as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project by Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt and Blake Ross. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape’s sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser. To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite’s software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite. On April 3, 2003, the Mozilla Organization announced that they planned to change their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird.
The Firefox project has undergone several name changes. Originally titled Phoenix, it was renamed because of trademark problems with Phoenix Technologies. The replacement name, Firebird, provoked an intense response from the Firebird free database software project. In response, the Mozilla Foundation stated that the browser should always bear the name Mozilla Firebird to avoid confusion with the database software. After further pressure from the database server’s development community, on February 9, 2004, Mozilla Firebird became Mozilla Firefox, often referred to as simply Firefox. Mozilla prefers that Firefox be abbreviated as Fx or fx, though it is often abbreviated as FF. The Firefox project went through many versions before version 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004.On October 5, 2012, Mozilla released the Metro interface version of Firefox, included in the Nightly 18 build, to be used in Windows 8.
In a flat world, the importance of comparative advantage disappears. Bhagwati (2010) argued that, although global capital markets led to decreasing interest rate differences between different countries and even multinational companies have facilitated technology transfer between countries, the differences remain due to culture and politics. An example is the political regime from China, which has undermined software development. PC (Communist Party) in China is irreconcilable with the PC (personal computer) of U.S. origin. But unlike China, which occupies a leading position in hardware production, India is better at programming and not at the hardware, thanks to the recently opened Indian autarchic regime following the 1991 reforms (Guha and Ray 2004, pp 301-302).
The other obstacle in the flattening process, but an obstacle which can both accelerate or decelerate the global integration, is the national culture. The more resistant to globalization the local culture is, the higher the chances of isolation are and the probability that the community will crush because of the internal conflicts. Régis Debray (in Matthew, 2007) lists two reasons behind the crisis of the world culture: rapid population growth and the local retreat which the technological globalization is fuelling – as the world begins to resemble more, the people are trying to distinguish between them more through local cultures, leading to an increased nationalistic feeling.
The fierce criticism of “the flattening earth theory” is related to increased income disparities, both in developing and developed countries. For example, the poor countries, where the financial markets restrict access to capital for people with low incomes, the investments are extremely low and growth is inhibited. Thus, globalization tends to favour increased income disparities, since the main beneficiaries of globalization are those that have already wealthy capital and higher education or, at the country level, citizens of developed countries, where are healthy and stable institutions. Birdsall (2005, p. 33-36) proposes reforming global institutions like the World Bank or International Monetary Fund, so they can truly represent the interests of poor countries. They are the ones that have mechanisms to manage the implementation of a social contract model to increase access to educational opportunities for the poor and creating sound and stable institutions in developing countries. For now, the votes are non-democratically allocated in these institutions. Europeans always choose the IMF president and Americans the WB president. In addition, most of the time, people in their management have no experience in solving the problems they face, since the holding of such functions are not related to previous work experience (Stiglitz, 2006, September 10). The Birdsall’s second recommendation proposes the creation of global rules that correct market failures, environmental protection (eg Kyoto Protocol), support markets from poor countries to overcome financial risks (IMF) and deter corruption and other anticompetitive practices.
The same argument – the disparities of income growth – was brought by Stiglitz (2006, September 10) to contradict Friedman’s vision. He said that globalization can be felt only in terms of transport and communications costs decrease. Regarding economic development, he gave the example of the Republic of Moldova that although it experiences a transition period from communist regime, its GDP has decreased by 70% in 2005 and has spent about three quarters of GDP for foreign debt.
The internet has become a fundamental part of many people’s day-to-day working lives. As with the introduction of other mass communication technologies, issues surrounding use, abuse and addiction in the workplace have surfaced (Griffiths, 2002; Weatherbee, 2009). It is not uncommon for office workers to spend workplace time on various non-work activities (e.g. booking holidays, shopping online, bidding in online auctions, e-mailing friends/romantic partners, etc.). According to a survey by the International Data Corporation (Snapshot Spy, 2008), up to 40 per cent of internet access in the workplace is spent on non-work related browsing, and 60 per cent of all online purchases are made during working hours. The same survey also reported that 90 per cent of employees felt the internet can be addictive, and 41 per cent admitted to personal internet surfing at work for more than three hours per week. Internet abuse at work can lead to a decrease in productivity, network clogging, and an increase in the incidents of security breaches at an organization (Pee et al., 2008; Clayburgh and Nazareth, 2009; Weatherbee, 2009). Activities and consequences such as these highlight that internet abuse is a potentially serious cause of concern for employers.
It has been claimed that excessive internet use can be pathological and addictive (Widyanto and Griffiths, 2006) and that such behaviour comes under the more generic label of “technological addiction” (Griffiths, 1995, 1998). It has been argued that behavioural addictions are no different from chemical addictions (e.g. alcoholism, and heroin addiction) in terms of the core components of addiction such as salience, tolerance, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, and relapse.
Research into internet addiction suggests that it does indeed exist but that it affects only a very small minority of users (Widyanto and Griffiths, 2006, 2009). These are usually people who use internet chat rooms or play fantasy role playing games – activities that they would not engage in except on the internet itself. To some extent, these internet users are engaged in text-based virtual realities and take on other social personas and social identities as a way of making them feel good about themselves. In such cases, the medium of the internet may provide an alternative reality to the user and allow them feelings of immersion and anonymity, feelings that may lead to an altered state of consciousness for the user. This in itself may be highly psychologically and/or physiologically rewarding. There appear to be many people who use the internet excessively but are not addicted as measured by addiction criteria. Most people researching in the field have failed to use stringent criteria for measuring addiction (Widyanto and Griffiths, 2006).
Internet as an advertising medium
Internet penetration rate in the U.S. reached 67.8% in 2005 (Internet World Stats, 2005), which translated to $133.3 billion in e-commerce revenues (Kumar & Shah, 2004). In April 2006 the penetration rate hit new high and reached 73% (Madden, 2006). Broadband penetration in the U.S. rose to 63.8% in October 2005 and is expected to reach 70% in 2006 (“U.S. Passes Singapore to 15th,” 2005). The growing availability and usage of Internet, particularly broadband Internet, has created a large audience for Internet advertising. More people are spending more time online. The Internet has reached well beyond the critical mass to be considered a medium economically viable for advertisers. The uncertainty that once hung over online commerce has given way to steady, or even robust, growth (Hyland, 2004). Internet companies, as well as traditional firms selling online, are making real revenue. A research study in 2004 showed that 79% of online retailers were making money, with a 21% average margin (Ramsey, 2004). It is expected total online sales in 2006 will increase 20% to $211 billion (“Online sales expected to rise,” 2006).
With the rise of Internet audiences and online e-commerce activities, the Internet is
prospering as an advertising medium. Internet advertising revenues in the United States totaled more than $1.5 billion in 2005, a 30% increase over 2004 (Interactive Advertising Bureau [IAB], 2006). Internet advertising accounted for about 5% of total U.S. advertising revenues in 2005 and nearly matched total consumer magazine advertising.
Few people are aware of the term “web accessibility.” In the short-life time of the web visual aesthetics has been the design goal, rather than equal access. Web accessibility is the practice of making web sites accessible to people who require more than just traditional web browsers to access the internet. For example, a visually impaired user can use a screen reader to translate text and graphics on the computer screen to an audio format so the user hears the screen content via a speech synthesizer or sound card. An accessible web site is designed to accommodate a wider set of ways users can access the site. However, designing a web site with accessibility not only serves people with disabilities, but also results in a wider set of benefits for everyone.
Twitter – New media for information sharing
Twitter is a micro blogging service commands more than 41 million users as of July 2009 and is growing fast. Twitter users tweet about any topic within the 140-character limit and follow others to receive their tweets. Twitter has emerged as a new medium in spotlight through recent happenings, such as an American student jailed in Egypt and the US Airways plane crash on the Hudson river. Twitter users follow others or are followed. Unlike on most online social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace, the relationship of following and being followed requires no reciprocation. A user can follow any other user, and the user being followed need not follow back. Being a follower on Twitter means that the user receives all the messages (called tweets) from those the user follows. Common practice of responding to a tweet has evolved into well-defined mark-up culture: RT stands for retweet, ‘@’ followed by a user identifier address the user, and ‘#’ followed by a word represents a hashtag. This well-defined mark-up vocabulary combined with a strict limit of 140 characters per posting conveniences users with brevity in expression. The retweet mechanism empowers users to spread information of their choice beyond the reach of the original tweet’s followers.
A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors such as individuals or organizations and the dyadic ties between these actors. The social network perspective provides a clear way of analyzing the structure of whole social entities. The study of these structures uses social network analysis to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics.
In 2002, social networking hit really its stride with the launch of Friendster. Friendster used a degree of separation concept similar to that of the now-defunct SixDegrees.com, refined it into a routine dubbed the “Circle of Friends” wherein the pathways connecting two people are displayed, and promoted the idea that a rich online community can exist only between people who truly have common bonds. And it ensured there were plenty of ways to discover those bonds.
An interface that shared many of the same traits one would find at an online dating site certainly didn’t seem to hurt. (CEO Jonathan Abrams actually refers to his creation as a dating site that isn’t about dating.) And, just a year after its launch, Friendster boasted more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interest. Though the service has since seen more than its fair share of technical difficulties, questionable management decisions, and a resulting drop in its North American fortunes, it remains a force in Asia and, curiously, a near-necessity in the Philippines.
Introduced just a year later in 2003, LinkedIn took a decidedly more serious, sober approach to the social networking phenomenon. Rather than being a mere playground for former classmates, teenagers, and cyberspace Don Juans, LinkedIn was, and still is, a networking resource for businesspeople who want to connect with other professionals. In fact, LinkedIn contacts are referred to as “connections.” Today, LinkedIn boasts more than 175 million members.
More than tripling that number, according to recent estimates, is MySpace, also launched in 2003. Though it no longer resides upon the social networking throne in many English-speaking countries – that honour now belongs to Facebook just about everywhere – MySpace remains the perennial favourite in the USA. It does so by tempting the key young adult demographic with music, music videos, and a funky, feature-filled enviro
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