The world has become increasingly interconnected and culturally homogeneous. But make no mistake, globalization is not a trend -- here today, gone tomorrow. "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" points out that globalization is the integration of capital, technology and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a "global village." Computers have had a tremendous, and sometimes controversial, impact on globalization.
Computers have dramatically increased access to information around the world. With a computer and an Internet connection, people in Brazil and Sri Lanka, for example, can read websites from the United States, and vice versa. This increased availability of information is a factor in cultural homogenization, a key component of globalization, as well as a factor in the increasing interconnectedness of global communications.
Computers have driven down the prices of many manufactured goods. With computers, companies can streamline their supply chain by automating many routine assembly line jobs. With the Internet, it is possible for companies to switch to a user-directed sales process, thereby eliminating the costs associated with keeping sales teams in different countries. The net effect of this is an increase in the availability of similar products around the world.
Computers have increased the availability of labor around the world. Many English-speaking workers in Third World countries can do certain jobs -- for example, data entry, customer service and accounting -- at a fraction of the cost of workers in First World countries. This impact is one of the more-controversial aspects of globalization: every job outsourced to a foreign country is a job a citizen of the outsourcing country no longer holds.
Computers have increased copyright claims attributed to online piracy. While the United States government has taken serious steps to prosecute those who distribute copyrighted material for free online, not all governments have taken the same approach. The result of this has been the increased availability of free content and software through illegal channels around the world. This represents a globalized version of criminal activity.
Computers have contributed to some of the cultural issues associated with globalization. These issues include racism, especially on message boards and news comment sites; hate group networking, on hate group websites; and terrorist networking. Although only a small part of what takes place on the Internet, these activities are nevertheless a product of computers and a contributor to globalization.
- "Computers Make the Case for Globalization"; John Carroll; Nov 2008
- GNU: Copyright and Globalization in the Age of Computer Networks
- "The Lexus and the Olive Tree"; Thomas L. Friedman; 2000
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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