York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a three-time recipient of
the Pulitzer Prize, was the star of a School of Communications-sponsored
question-and-answer session Sept. 29, before offering the Baird
Pulitzer Prize Lecture at 6 p.m. in the Koury Center.
on globalization during the hour-long session in Whitley Auditorium.
Many of the students in the audience had read his book on globalization,
"The Lexus and the Olive Tree," and hands shot up all
over the auditorium every time there was an opportunity to probe
the author about his book. Dr. Connie Book was the discussion leader
for the session.
Friedman explained to
the audience of 250 that this era of expansion is based on technology.
era of globalization was based on falling transportation costs -
railroads, shipping," Friedman said of the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. "Our era is based on something different: falling telecommunications
costs have made it possible to grow like never before."
has brought the people of the world closer together, Friedman says
we must be careful how we use it. "Technology
has made it so much easier for us to talk to each other, but the
framework to understanding each other can't be downloaded. It has
to be uploaded, through things like study abroad and internships,"
Friedman said. "One of the paradoxes of the internet is that rather
than promoting understanding, it's just raising the world's blood
affairs columnist for the Times since 1995, said the United States'
exponential growth since the fall of the Berlin Wall, as both a
military and economic superpower, made its influence felt in a way
never seen before.
"We have grown
so rapidly that we've begun to touch people's lives, culturally
and economically, more than their own governments," Friedman said.
As a result, America was seen differently by the rest of the world
after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent invasion
we went from being Puff the Magic Dragon to Godzilla," Friedman
said, adding that the UN debate over Iraq was seen by many other
nations as a battle over which nations would have a vote in the
future of people worldwide, rather than the threat of Saddam Hussein's
potential weapons of mass destruction.
Asked if he
aspires to political office, Friedman says he loves being a journalist
and columnist and the freedom of speech that comes with it.
been able to say it exactly the way you want to say it, in 750 newspapers
around the world, to have to say 'no comment' or 'let me look into
that,'...I can't imagine that," he said. "I'm a journalist,
and I really love what I do. Its the most fun you can have legally
that I know of."
inherent positives of a common computer-based bond thanks to new
technologies, Friedman said the world's "framework is lagging
good day, the Internet is an open sore," he said. "We
don't have the filters to sift it out, so we actually create some
distance. But the upside is this: I look at the Internet as a big
piece of flatbread and cultures can put anything they want on it."
He added that each culture must add its own ingredient because globalization
is no longer a mere possibility or distant vision. It is happening.
"I didn't start it, and I can't stop it," he said. "You're
not doing it, I'm not doing it, but people out there are feeling
it and worrying about their olive trees."
for a "sustainable globalization" in which all societies
travel one road en route to a healthier society that maintains the
olive tree but manages to advance economically.
olive tree ends up getting disrooted because of globalization, that's
a really unhealthy thing," he said. "You can't have a
stable country if there are no roots and the tree doesn't bear fruit.
You have to find a balance. I do believe there's one road, but I
think there are many speeds. The trick is not going too fast or
(Compiled from University Relations
and student reports.)