Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My world went flat!

Last summer I read a wonderful book titled The World is Flat authored by Thomas Friedman (See for an abstract) and most recently I purchased the audio version from so I may listen to the content while I drive to and from work.

One question Friedman asks those he interviewed for this book was “Where were you when you realized the world was flat?”

Now I have worked in the technology field as an educator for the past 14 years. During this time, I witnessed the rise and fall of the Dot com era. (What a ride we had…) As Friedman’s book clearly points out, the rest of the world became benefactors of the Dot Com bust. As I read and listened to the book, I still felt I had not personally experienced the “Flat World”. Sure, I own products created outside of the United States and I traded email with family and friends while visiting Paris in 2002. In my mind, this was nothing more than a letter that got there quickly. (Okay, so I am a bit jaded toward “Been there, done that!” technology.)

Recently my world when FLAT. Oddly enough, it went flat using that same “Been there, done that technology.

The story… A month or so ago, Peggy George of Arizona State University shared my personal podcasting web site ( with Terry Freedman of Information & Communication Technology in Education in the UK. Terry was kind enough to mention my site on his Blog. Needless to say… I was excited and of course sent Terry and email thanking him. Over the course of several weeks, Terry, Peggy and I communicated (Often in real time. (Peggy and I apparently are night Owls.)) about various topics concerning education and technology. Terry even asked me to contribute an article to a booklet he is planning to publish.

As clock continued turn, I learned of though Terry’s Blog and placed the stat counter on my podcasting page. I was fascinated to learn that people from around the world were now visiting my podcasting page. (Hmmm… Maybe the world is getting flat…)

Last week, I received a draft copy of Terry’s booklet. Reading the document, I began to realize I was keeping “virtual” company with some impressive people from around the world. (If memory serves me, five counties are represented in this document.) The first part of this week, this group of authors traded several email messages (Again, spanning the globe.). Wow, I thought to myself, THIS IS SO COOL!

Side bar… I have not mentioned it yet but one of my latest passions is podcasting and I have been working on this topic for the past 5 months. Why does this matter you ask? I just wanted to get that on the table and I think it will help pull this story together.

Back to the Story… Today I completed uploading a new podcasting site ( on the district Technology Training web site. Being pleased with my effort, I sent the URL to Peggy and Terry for comment. Three hours later, I saw a reply form Terry. His short reply was heard around the globe. His reply included the authors who contributed to his booklet. By 11:30 PM, I had responses from two of the recipients who had been copied on the email. Once again, I thought… Wow, THIS IS SO COOL! I also thought I was a bonehead and forgot to put a stat counter on the web page.

At midnight, I began the process of placing the stat counter code on the web page. As I reloaded the page to verify the counter was properly functioning, I notice an extra hit. (Odd… Who else could have just hit the page?) Clicking the link to view the statistics on the page, I learned I had a visitor from the Philippines. My world just went flat!

It is time to tell my story. It is now 1:20 AM, and I am about ready to close this story. Just for giggles, I will check the site stats once again. WOW!!! As of March 30, 2006 at 1:20 AM, the site has had visitors from the:

• United States
• United Kingdom
• Netherlands
• Philippines

So… To answer Thomas Friedman’s question. Where was I when I realized the world was flat? I was sitting at my desk in Phoenix, Arizona reading email and learning of visitors to my newly posted web page from around the world.
Technology is a wonderful tool. However, it is only a tool. The communication and collaboration with people in different, time zones, countries and continents makes the difference in our “Flat World”.

Comments welcome. Shawn Wheeler (

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