Chief Semiglobalization Officer ™, Anyone?*

OK, been waiting 6 or 7 years for that particular slice of the boloney roll to land in the dirt. Been reviewing the book “Redefining Global Strategies: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Remain” by Pankaj Ghemawat. 

It’s based on the fact that the world ain’t so “flat” (in the Friedman sense) or “borderless” after all, and that political, cultural, and economic differences abound and will continue to do so for a long time. There’s a lot going in the the book that I’ll cover in the published review in Multilingual.

But is this “semiglobalization” really a revelation to anyone? The people who will read this book will be aware of the semiglobalization (semi? You’re joking) premise already. None of the fancy terminology or models will cut any ice in the boardroom when it comes to obtaining budgets for localization anymore than a PowerPoint slide that says “Pope Not Protestant” and “Bears Spurn J C Decaux Stock Issue”. Does anyone really buy into that EEC/EC/EU old guff about eliminating restrictions on movement of labour and capital and the equalization of taxes and removal of barriers to competition anymore?

Ever tried buying a car in the UK and importing it into the Republic Ireland because it was cheaper to do so? You’re hit with a massive vehicle registration tax by the Irish government. Or try buying an iPhone in the Republic of Ireland and then the same phone 10 yards up the road in Northern Ireland, or in another EU state. Or buying songs from iTunes in different parts of Europe. Consider what’s being revealed by the Tolkienesque Olympic Torch garbage. Or what’s still going on in Balkans. Or what Bono and Bob Geldof are always banging on about.

I was reminded of all this globalization stuff yesterday as my hired car took me to Rajiv Ghandi International Airport in Hyderabad. Passing thousands – and I mean thousands – of people living like dogs on the side of street in cardboard boxes and abandoned earthmover tires is something I’ll bear in mind the next time I’m told the world is “flat”. I’ll remind the source that anyone who calls a spade a spade should be compelled to use one (apologies to Oscar Wilde).

Watch out for my review of Ghemawat’s book in the magazine soon.

* © Copyright 2007, 2008, kisstheblarneystone productions

Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.


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