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These days, economic pundits sound a lot like elementary school teachers giving a geography lesson. "The world is flat!" says Thomas Friedman in his new book of the same title. "The world is spiky!" reports Richard Florida in an October Atlantic Monthly article.
But the lesson they're trying to teach isn't physical geography - it's economic. Their basic question has to do with how we map the shape of the New Economy.
The starting point in the debate is always the same - information and communications technology has changed our economy in fundamental ways. We now compete globally, not just locally. "Value-added" to a product or service can happen not only down the assembly line but just about anywhere on earth. And capacity for knowledge and innovation, not just mass production, is now critical for economic success.
Friedman sums up these phenomena by declaring (with a few qualifiers) that the world is flat. By this, he means that the economic playing field ...