Ubiquitous Technology for a Global World

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately about the globalization of the job markets as a byproduct of the explosion in technology tools in the last 5 years or so, including Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat as well as some comments that Alan November made during a keynote in Scotland (as described by Will Richardson here).

While I agree with many of the things that people like Friedman and November are saying, I am continuously struck by the us v. them attitude that comes through, e.g. the idea that the U.S. is going to lose jobs to India and China because of increased outsourcing, and that somehow future generations in the U.S. are going to lose out on what they are supposedly entitled to.

What troubles me about these types of statements is the idea that living in the U.S. (or even Western Europe for that matter) entitles people to things like jobs before anybody else. I think instead we need to start thinking about issues like education, jobs, the environment, etc. from a more global perspective. We cannot expect our students to start thinking in this way if we don't start doing it ourselves and if we don't figure out ways to teach students how to think in this way.

And yes, technology will and should play a big part in all of this. For one, the proliferation of mobile wireless tools, the Internet, and all kinds of social software tools for sharing ideas, stories, pictures, video, etc. is allowing us to  literally have a world full of information at our fingertips whenever and wherever we need it. Second, new technologies are enabling us to communicate with people across the globe, just as we do with people across the room. Think for example about the example that Alan November used in his keynote at eLive 2006, in which he mentioned that IBM employees create 10 million IM messages per day as PART OF THEIR JOBS.

We need to teach our children that this is the power of technology, and that it can be used for good or evil. We need to get them to understand that this power comes with responsibilties and dangers, and that there are ways to be responsible and safe. We need them to realize that their world reaches far beyond the places they live in, and that this world is not only a physical, but also a digital one. We need them to see that in order for them to succeed, a "we" attitude will get them much farther than an "us v. them" one.


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