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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "So Much Fun. So Irrelevant.": This Opinion Piece Is Indeed Irrelevant

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "So Much Fun. So Irrelevant." (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/opinion/friedman-so-much-fun-so-irrelevant.html?hp), Thomas Friedman blithely ignores his recent dalliance with anti-Semitism (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2011/12/thomas-friedman-newt-mitt-bibi-and.html) and is back to selling us his tired spiel that "cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth . . . will be the job factories of the future."

Friedman is too in love with himself to consider that even with "the fastest broadband connections on earth" creating mountains of data, the data is useless unless it can be integrated and sorted. Nowhere is this more evident than in biology, where university and corporate researchers are generating a flood of information from their experimentation, which without processing -- you need a hypothesis to know what you're looking for -- is of no value whatsoever.

Friedman concludes:

"Therefore, the critical questions for America today have to be how we deploy more ultra-high-speed networks and applications in university towns to invent more high-value-added services and manufactured goods and how we educate more workers to do these jobs — the only way we can maintain a middle class."

I've got news for Tom: Innovation and jobs are not going to come from "university towns." In the real world, individual tenured professors assisted by transient teams of students, all working without the stress of knowing that failure will cost them their livelihoods, and all working around holiday schedules and summer breaks, are not going to create the new jobs that will sustain the middle class.

Moreover, "ultra-high-speed networks" might move porn that much faster into the homes of millions of persons not yet connected to the Internet, but will not spawn productivity.

Yes, Friedman's latest opinion piece is "So Irrelevant." "So much fun"? To each his own.

3 comments:

  1. Spot on.
    Tom Friedman ought to read Stef Wertheimer's autobiography and he might, he might just start to comprehend how to create jobs, train people and encourage innovation.

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  2. 'In the real world, individual tenured professors assisted by transient teams of students, all working without the stress of knowing that failure will cost them their livelihoods'
    Correct. I've been wondering ... how is it possible that individuals like Friedman can spend decades bubbling totally irresponsibly ... without any consequences?
    There are groups of people who live their charmed lives in some different "reality" but pretend to ANALYZE the real reality. Why are they being paid (a lot) for selling us ... looking for a word ... garbage (a euphemism - I am nice today)

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  3. T.Friedman: a paradigmatic example of self-taxidermy, perhaps a case study.

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