Sometime in 2005, internet watchers say, the billionth user logged on. No one knows who that was, of course, but according to web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, "Statistically, we're likely talking about a 24-year-old woman in Shanghai." In news reports, blogs and cocktail-party conversations, this data point got trotted out to underscore what's become conventional wisdom: The world is flat.
Thomas Friedman, author of the best-seller by that name, put the flat-world concept this way in a recent Wired interview: "Several technological and political forces have converged, and that has produced a global, web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration without regard to geography or distance - or, soon, even language."
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