IM’ing Jack Straw

I’ve managed to wrestle the copy of Thomas Friedman’s new book, The World Is Flat, from my significant other long enough to read a fascinating snippet about the author’s encounter with Colin Powell in 2001. “I could not resist asking him where he was when he realized that the world had gone flat. He answered with one word: ‘Google.’ Powell said that when he took over as secretary of state in 2001, and he needed some bit of information–say, the text of a UN resolution–he would call an aide and have to wait for minutes or even hours for someone to dig it up for him. ‘Now I just type into Google ‘UNSC Resolution 242’ and up comes the text.

Powell, a former member of the AOL board, also regularly used email to contact other foreign ministers, and according to one of his aides, kept up a constant instant-messaging relationship with Britain’s foreign secretary Jack Straw. At summit meetings, as if they were a couple of college students. Thanks to the cell phone and wireless technology, no foreign minister can run and hide. ‘We have everyone’s cell phone number’ Powell said.