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The Big Switch : Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google
by Nicholas Carr

Overview - A hundred years ago, companies stopped producing their own power with steam engines and generators and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities not only changed how businesses operated but also brought the modern world into existence.  Read more...

 
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More About The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr
 
 
 
Overview
A hundred years ago, companies stopped producing their own power with steam engines and generators and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities not only changed how businesses operated but also brought the modern world into existence. Today a similar revolution is under way. Companies are dismantling their private computer systems and tapping into rich services delivered over the Internet. This time it s computing that s turning into a utility. The shift is already remaking the computer industry, bringing new competitors like Google to the fore and threatening traditional stalwarts like Microsoft and Dell. But the effects will reach much further. Cheap computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did. In this lucid and compelling book, Nicholas Carr weaves together history, economics, and technology to explain why computing is changing and what it means for all of us."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393062281
  • ISBN-10: 0393062287
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: January 2008
  • Page Count: 278


Related Categories

Books > Computers & Internet > Information Theory

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 48.
  • Review Date: 2007-11-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

While it may seem that we’re in the midst of an unprecedented technological transition, Carr (Does IT Matter?) posits that the direction of the digital revolution has a strong historical corollary: electrification. Carr argues that computing, no longer personal, is going the way of a power utility. Manufacturers used to provide their own power (i.e., windmills and waterwheels) until they plugged into the electric grid a hundred years ago. According to Carr, we’re in the midst of a similar transition in computing, moving from our own private hard drives to the computer as access portal. Soon all companies and individuals will outsource their computing systems, from programming to data storage, to companies with big hard drives in out-of-the-way places. Carr’s analysis of the recent past is clear and insightful as he examines common computing tools that are embedded in the Internet instead of stored on a hard drive, including Google and YouTube. The social and economic consequences of this transition into the utility age fall somewhere between uncertain and grim, Carr argues. Wealth will be further consolidated into the hands of a few, and specific industries, publishing in particular, will perish at the hands of “crowdsourcing” and the “unbundling of content.” However, Carr eschews an entirely dystopian vision for the future, hypothesizing without prognosticating. Perhaps lucky for us, he leaves a great number of questions unanswered. (Jan.)

 
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