When Jules Verne wrote the scifi classic Around the World in 80 Days, the excitement and challenge was that technology could allow Phineas Phogg to travel at such breath-taking speed. When Rick Segal and I circumnavigate the globe in 23 days this August, the excitement will still be technology, but this time it will be what happens when we are on the ground between flights.
Rick and I have been talking about this journey for several months. For a while it looked like we would be blessed by Doc Searls coming along with us, but Doc can't spare the time and he as other things to do and places to go. Doc wanted to call this the "Flat World Tour," which in many ways, would be a very apt title. Thomas Friedman's book did a great job of showing how technology is making this a smaller, faster, more closely connected world. Friedman focused on what big companies are doing in China, in India in supply chains and in global employee collaboration. Rick and I are much more interested in the small companies, or in people who have not yet formed companies; on collaborations between people who are making geography irrelevant. For me, I have a particular interest in companies that may prevail because they are empowering communities of people, rather than attempting to command and control them.
But Friedman sort of owns the "flat world" term and we don't want to mess with it. Besides we don't need to name the tour. Rick and I are not rock stars. We are just two guys with a common interest in what is gong on in the connected world, that is flying for the most part beneath the radar today but will make a difference tomorrow.
We are coming from different perspectives. I'm a writer and hope that this journey will sell more of the book I wrote with Robert Scoble and give me a mountain of material for "Global Neighborhoods" my new book. Rick is a Canadian venture capitalist who would like to show that Silicon Valley is not the center of the universe. He's a champion of his adopted country in technology and has passion for tech companies germinating there. I believe that Silicon Valley remains precisely that, but the universe is expanding at such a rapid rate that being at the center is becoming less relevant.
I've been looking at startups for over 25 years and will help Rick make any investment decisions that may come up along our way. He has written four books and will collaborate to some degree with me on what the story and stories are as we find them. By virtue of this adventure, Rick will be a major character in this new book or so I would assume.
I am grateful he invited me I'm even more grateful for the mileage he has acquired that let's me travel for free. He is giving me the chance of a lifetime.