Thomas Friedman pronounced the world flat a decade ago in his best-seller, and he writes today in the New York Times that he's amazed that was before the advent of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, the cloud, and on and on. The world is a lot flatter and "hyperconnected" today, and the onus is even heavier on individuals to create their own success. In fact, it's "a 401(k) world" now—you're going to have to rely on your own "defined contributions" rather than coasting along on the system.
"If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you," writes Friedman. "The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing." This will have to be reflected in our education system. Degrees won't be enough—more workers will have to pass specific "certifications" to prove their worth, similar to the way lawyers must pass the bar. And slackers should note how much easier it is these days to measure who is contributing and who isn't. "A lot of this is scary," writes Friedman, but "it's not going away, so we better think how we help every citizen benefit from it." Click for his full column. (Read more modernization stories.)