Ubiquitous Technology for a Global World, Part II

John Mulqueen pointed out this article, entitled "Opportunities in Globalization", in the Philadelphia Enquirer to me (it can also be found in the CyberFone blog). It provides a succinct, yet well thought out, opposite view to what people like Friedman and November are saying, who tend to use scare tactics to get us to change.

Instead, the author of "Opportunities for Globalization," Rocco Leonard Martino, proposes that

we need not fear globalization if we are ready to serve this rapidly growing world of on-demand markets. Such markets will be created and energized by Web-based labor, and our political and business leaders need to do all they can to encourage and reward it in the United States.

In addition, he states that instead of retreating into our shells and try to protect what we have now, the U.S. should look for ways to be competitive in this new, global, information society. Examples he provides are federal tax incentives and above all, telecommuting, which will decrease energy use, overhead costs, and increase productivity and GDP.

I think Martino has some interesting points, and I would especially like to see more about his ideas about telecommuting and its potential impact on the economy as a whole. It is obvious that changes need to be made in the way Americans do their jobs, so that even though U.S. labor costs tend to be higher compared to countries like India and China, the U.S. can be competitive in a global market.

A couple of other observations:

*Martino notes that about 1 billion people have access to the web worldwide. Given the situation as it is right now, what will happen once the other 5.5 billion, or a substantial percentage of them, get access as well?

*Martino mentions that in order for high-labor-cost countries to be competitive, they need to do so by developing "new skills, better management, new products, and above all, new industries. Globalization is creating forces that will demand new products and services geared to on-demand response." Obviously, these new skills, products, etc. cannot be created without a well-educated workforce. Martino seems to assume that this will be the case in the U.S. but does not provide any indication as to how education needs to adjust to prepare students for the 21st century knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to acquire to survive in this constantly changing global economy. I tend to agree with that our educational system is quickly on its way to becoming obsolete, as argued by people like Bill Gates, and unless we make some fundamental changes in the very near future, the repercussions are going to be substantial. Obviously, technology should play an essential role in a revamped educational system.

Finally, a thought that came to mind after rereading my blog post on this same topic yesterday: It seems that one of the problems educators seem to have with new technologies is exactly this us v. them attitude (U.S. v. rest of the world) that I described before, "us" being the educational establishment, "them" being students. Students are constantly accessing and experimenting with new technologies, at a much faster rate than adults tend to do, with the result that adult understanding of kids' lives is even smaller today than it used to be in the past. I think this is in part where the fear of new technologies comes from, and results in the reluctance to allow these new technologies in schools.


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