As I am reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat I started thinking about it as a social scientist (I am a social studies teacher in my previous training). The thought of relief came to mind. In simple geographic terms relief is how steep or flat an area is: high relief is steep, low relief is flat.

Then, I thought of relief in terms of ease of burden or anxiety and how that compares to the geographic definitions and combined the ideas. Following Friedman’s premise a round world could be associated with high relief. In effect, as people are separated by geography and the physical barriers that exist (distance, terrain, water, etc.) the world is isolated, maybe even simple (less anxiety?). A flat world would then exhibit low relief! Remember, I am combining definitions of relief here. Continuing this idea, with “low relief” in a flat world we are more connected, the playing field is leveled, but now there is more anxiety, unknown (danger?). Although the opportunities are now open and more diverse with new technologies in a flat world, there is “low relief.”

So, my premise is “The World is Flat,” but there is “Low Relief” especially for those who benefited from a round world for so long. What do you think? Have I committed too many historical fallacies and linguistic twists!?!

On a side note, I found this cool video of what appears to be some students’ project describing relief (geography) and temperature. Enjoy!

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