The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr

8 03 2010

bigswitchcover2thumb By accident I picked up The Big Switch – Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr.  I had nothing to read and saw the book laying at one of the hotels we were passing through without knowing anything about the book beforehand.  I really liked the book as it got me thinking about things that I hadn’t given too much thought before – and a bit of thinking is always good :)

In this the book the author discusses where computer technology and the internet are heading in the next few years. 

In the first part of the book the author talks about the development of electricity, how the production and distribution of electricity moved from a decentralized model where each company produced it’s own electricity to becoming a general utility delivered through a centralized network that anyone can tab into, cheaply and effortlessly.  The author then argues that computers, hardware and software and services, are heading the same way that electricity did – towards commoditization of IT.  This form of utility computing or cloud computing he calls the World Wide Computer – where computer networks talk together to create some form of a super computer for all to use.  We have seen this development in recent years with increasing number of services delivered “in the cloud” both to individuals and corporations.

In the second part of the book the author discusses what these changes really mean in a social and economic context.  He argues that today it might be the public that is profiting the most from the World Wide Computer through free services like facebook, Gmail and others.  But in the end everything is money driven and corporations will get a hold of this new arena, maybe at our expense.  However the development will unfold the change to utility computing will profoundly change our society as much as electricity did in the 19th century.

As I said in the beginning, I really liked this book as it brought ideas to my attention that I had not thought that deeply about before.  Even though you might not agree with the author on every point, the book is an interesting read that get you thinking about the future of the internet and computing in general and give you an idea about where future opportunities might await and what to avoid.

I would say that this book is a must read for all IT professionals.  It should also be very interesting for people interested in the internet and want to keep up with the latest development.  It is very accessible without much technical jargon so anyone should be able to pick it up and read – and enjoy.



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