Saturday, May 22, 2010

Part I: Globalisation - A New Phenomenon?

Over twenty years ago, the most advanced and sophisticated instrument of telecommunication technology in any office was the telephone. Today, we have an abundance of choice when it comes to domestic or international communication, and each choice is catered for any of our specific needs. If we want to cyber-travel across the world to see, and speak, with the CEO in America from the comfort of our office in London, we simply click on the 'video-conferencing' option. If we want to send an important document to our local office in France, we can send a 'fax', or if no one is available to receive our important message we can leave a 'voice-mail' delivered from our 'mobile phone', which also allows us to relay that message simultaneously via 'email'. Or if all else fails, we can upload it onto the company 'intranet', or let the whole world have access to it by posting our message on the 'internet'.

This is just an example of growth and progress in technology over the past decade, which has been nothing but mind-blowingly phenomenal. Indeed, this speed and vast influx of technology as we know it, has radically changed how we go about our every day life.

What is Globalisation?

In 'Understanding Media' (1964) by Marshall McLuhan (who was the first person to coin the now popular term 'global village') Mcluhan defines his phrase 'global village' as an electronic nervous system 'in a global embrace abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned'. And what he meant by a 'central nervous system' was actually the media which was rapidly causing the planet to integrate, whereby events in one part of the world could be experienced from another part in real-time, as if it was happening within our vicinity even. And this was what human experience was like living in a small village.

Nowadays, this global village that Mcluhan so rightly predicted has been manifested into a word which has come into common use especially in the last twenty years: 'globalisation'.

Globalisation can be defined as a worldwide network of connections, whether it be between organisations or peoples, across national, geographic and cultural borders. Globalisation is also seen as a revolution in telecommunications, economy (capital or finance), and transport that has significantly influenced the nature and pace of growth in nations across the world. These 'global networks' have helped create a shrinking world where national boundaries and cultural/local differences are being promulgated into what is widely known as a 'global identity'.

Despite the recent use of the term globalisation in our everyday life, globalisation has only started to take its shape and form in the last twenty years because of advances in technology, especially computer technology which have meant that communication, information and transportation have become much faster and reaching more countries than ever. But the reason for the time lag is because it typically takes three or more decades before communication and information technologies take their penultimate shape and have their economic impacts acknowledged. This is attributable to economic and social reasons (Thurow, L., p.11).

Globalisation is seen as a process of change, many even see it as natural and inescapable. This is because globalisation involves two main factors: (1) Change involves international trade and investment, especially the role of business corporations, thereby creating an intertwining of national economies into a global economy, and (2) Changes around the world are happening much faster now....

Next Post: Part II: Global Economy - 21st Century Style