Thursday, December 05, 2002

 

I'm currently plowing through The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman (for the literature review on metaphor and interculutral communication). It's an accessible, thoughtful discussion of globalization, but also very disturbing, in many ways. I don't know about you all, but I am disturbed by the idea that governments, corporations, and what he calls "super-empowered individuals" are all converging, as far as their behaviors go. He doesn't mention it (or hasn't yet, anyway), but the university is also in this group of entities that are increasingly functioning more like businesses. Personally, I think that universities and governments have different mandates and social functions than corporations, and that it should be of great concern that they are expected to function like multinational businesses in the era of globalization.

Friedman also has interesting insights on the homogenization of business, culture, and government. He repeatedly notes that, in order to be competitive, institutions and businesses have to function under the same protocols and standards. Contrast this to some of the articles in Charles Ess's Technology and Culture and in Kolko and Nakamura's Race in Cyberspace, where authors argue that the Internet and communications technologies can do as much to preserve local culture as they can to homogenize global culture. It's all very complex, and a little confusing.

I am glad I have gotten around to reading Friedman. His perspective and his insight into the world of commerce is useful, and I have generally not looked into these areas too much - I have focused mainly on literary theory, cultural studies, and intercultural communication. Friedman brings a different perspective to my work, and it is, again, yet another argument for an interdisciplinary approach to communication and technology issues. Reading Friedman along with/against people such as Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Raul Homero Villa is challenging - there's a little bit of cognitive dissonance going on in my brain right now - but is also useful.

Back to the book, and to the rest of my reading list! The next week and a half are truly going to be hell. Fast-paced, reading-and-writing intensive hell.

- posted by laurie @ 12/05/2002 10:44:00 AM
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