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Summer 2001
Getting a grip on Globalization
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At the same time, if we don't have that combination of forces but still get the speed of change that we seem to be heading for, there could be problems. I worry about the fact that when Bill Clinton was elected, there were 50 pages on the Web. Today there are 2 billion, 3 billion, nobody knows. When Bill Clinton was elected, few people had e-mail and most people thought the Internet was something used to catch fish on the Nile. In the eight years of Clinton's administration, almost everyone has e-mail and people consider Internet access an entitlement. Now scale out that pace of change another eight years, and I think we're heading for the most complex period in American history since 1776-1789.

The Internet will, over time, increasingly shape how we communicate, how we educate and how we do business. It won't dominate, but it's going to be a huge factor in all of those things. Unlike a newspaper or book publisher, it has no editor, no censor, no teacher, no guard, no supervisor. This means that the center of our lives will be a technology that we will increasingly interact with nakedly, and we will all meet one another so much more directly through it, both locally and globally.

And what that means to me is the paradox of globalization, the paradox of the Internet: The faster the modems become, the more the walls fall, the more we meet each other directly and the more things get speeded up, the more we need to stress fundamentals. Reading, writing, arithmetic. Church, synagogue, temple, mosque. Rule of law and good governance.

The secret of the sauce for success in globalization, whether it's economic success as a company or building a successful and thriving country, is all about the fundamentals. It's all about the stuff you cannot download. It's all about the stuff you have to upload the old-fashioned way, under the olive tree.

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