TOM FRIEDMAN FALLS FLAT….Silicon Valley’s Chris Nolan has been watching Tom Friedman’s PR tour for his new book and isn’t impressed:
Appearing on Charlie Rose’s show Tuesday (he was studio-hopping; same suit, same too-short haircut as on Stewart) Friedman carried forth the valley’s party line with a fervor I haven’t seen from an East Coaster since, oh, since 1999. The valley’s way of looking at the world ? connected, fast, competitive ? has become Friedman’s. He’s even gone as far as to endorse the tech community’s stance on stock options ? he’s for it. Why? Because in China they don’t expense stock options. And, he says, solemnly, this networked stuff is just getting started; the dot.com bust was the end of the beginning.
….He’s discovered Google (you can do you own research!); VOIP (free phone calls!) and God only knows what else. We’ll have to read the book to find out.
As it happens, I just finished reading The World Is Flat, but you’ll have to wait for the next issue of the Monthly to read my full review. In the meantime, Chris is pretty much on target. As she says, it’s not so much that Friedman is wrong about the importance of globalization and connectedness, but rather that he drinks in PR-speak from his CEO buddies with such a wide eyed credulousness that he sounds more like a shill than an honest reporter. I suspect that for people like Chris and me, who spent the 90s in the software business and heard this kind of eye-rolling stuff on a daily basis, this is especially hard to take.
Bottom line: Friedman has taken on a serious subject in his book. It’s too bad he seems congenitally unable to treat it seriously.