My thoughts for the day that's in it.

By Brian Ohanlon, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 27 weeks ago.

I should call this post, in praise of slowness. Today, I realised how lucky I am to be slow on the uptake. I was never the first past the finishing post. As long as I can remember, schooling for me has been a struggle, often a miserable one. It took me about five years after everyone else, to appreciate the term globalism. I stumbled across globalism, through reading books lately by Friedman, Toffler, Stiglitz, Thackara and so on. Rather than through the easier, more direct route of Anti Americanism, or Anti-Blarism, which most of my friends took. I was vaguely aware of globalism though, and the flat world in mid 2002, having lost my job making cardboard boxes for Dell in Ireland, because of not wearing my ID badge. It was that experience, that wet my appetite, to learn more. To learn why, a long supply chain hand could reach all the way from Texas to Ireland and smack me one right in the jaw. I was lectured on the Dell ethos, as security escorted me to the exit. Like a bad christian who receives final advice from the book. As Thomas Friedman will admit, the laws of the global supply chain can exert more influence, than the laws of a country.

I remember back in 2001, a whole heap of people went to an extreme side of the debate as a result of 9/11. Many of those people are still struggling to find their way back again, to the middle. There has been a huge following for the Anti-Global, Anti-American trend here where I live. I didn't, think much about globalisation myself - I associated it with certain types here. Who spend a load of time complaining about Bush. So Friedman, in his book, has managed at least to water down globalism, so that regular folks like me can become introduced. Friedman himself, had completed a whole book called, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, only to realise he had over shot the mark. Coming too quickly to an understanding, at least Tom went back to rectify some of his errors and gave us his book, The World is Flat. But like so many people who gain an understanding very quickly, Tom is only gradually making his way back from the edge of the discussion.

Joe Stiglitz was here in Ireland, only a week ago, talking about his latest book, making globalisation work. That is Joe's third attempt in a book, at tackling globalism. George Soros has had quite a few attempts at it too. I was dragged along to Stiglitz's talk, by a couple of more informed people. As I was dragged to Noam Chomsky's talk too, when he was here earlier. It is by chance more than design, I have tripped over this globalisation issue. It is new to me. But perhaps it is good, I am slower than others. I finished reading Thackara's In the Bubble just a month or so ago. Thackara's book, reminds me a lot of Kelly's book, Out of Control. Because In the the Bubble, and Out of Control, are the best introductions I have found so far, to the whole issue of sustainability. Both Kelly and Thackara have this really broad scope in their books, which sustainabilty needs, to do it justice. Stuart Brand, Al Gore seem to manage it just as effectively.

Like the globalism issue, too many people here discovered sustainability too early. They ended up just focussing on a tiny part of it. Missing huge chunks of the whole view. Those people seem separated now on the edges, trying to fumble their way back into the middle. I am discovering sustainability gradually, and I am glad. What I am trying to describe, is a curiuos thing about perception. Malcolm Gladwell talks a lot about this kind of thing, in his book Blink. About knee jerk reactions, and first impressions. Many people equated with globalisation. As Friedman points out, this was incorrect. Many people here in Europe, associated globalism with Bush-ism, and Blare-ism. Many people here also associate, sustainability with sewage treatment. While many things have been tied too closely with globalism, sustainability is one issue, which could benefit from a more global perspective - the broader picture as described by John Thackara and Kevin Kelly. Globalism has very funny stickiness properties. Some things, like sustainability, which should adhere to it, don't. More things, like the Dell ethos, which should not adhere to globalism, are stuck to it like glue.

I have taken the long route to finding many things. I first encountered Alvin Toffler's writings, through a reference in Tom Peter's book, In Search of Excellence. I reckon that Friedman, has done a re-compile of Alvin Toffler, in the best possible way. Like someone who takes Linux and customises their own particular flavour. There is nothing wrong with a creative re-interpretation of ideas. There is nothing flatter, or indeed, more pragmatic. For all its flaws, and shortcomings, (and there are many) Friedman has managed to deliver a book worth reading. Especially for the parents of today, trying to find a way to explain the world to their kids. Many of whom, will end up working on the supply chain, like I did. I just wish more people would read these books, rather than refer to them for their catchy phrases, like Flat-ism, Future Shock, pro-sumerism, globalisation and sustainability.