The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google Paperback – 25 Jun 2013
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Lucid and accessible ... [Carr's] account is one of high journalism, rather than of a social or computer scientist. His book should be read by anyone interested in the shift from the world wide web and its implications for industry, work and our information environment. --Times Higher Education Supplement
About the Author
Nicholas Carr is the author of Does IT Matter? The former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, he has written for The New York Times, the Financial Times, Wired and other publications. Author blog: www.roughtype.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is essentially two books in one. In the "first" book, Carr discuss the move to "utility computing" (grid-based, aka cloud computing) and goes on to describe a number of historical analogies on how electricity utilities and grids were first introduced during the last century. The second "book" is made up of a series of essays on the social, moral and policy implications of our digital world. Though well researched, I found the first part rather boring.
With regards to utility computing, (Software virtualisation. Data Centre consolidation. IP connectivity. ITIL processes, hardware standardisation. Shared IT Services model). The idea sounds great and more and more enterprises are seriously starting to think about moving to this model for the future.
In the "second" book, (which I found very thought provoking) Carr, explores areas such as privacy, security and "market of one" opportunities and risks. He concludes that we are heading into a new era:
"In the years ahead, more and more of the information-processing tasks that we rely on, at home and at work, will be handled by big data centres located out on the Internet. The nature and economics of computing will change as dramatically as the nature and economics of mechanical power changed with the rise of electric utilities in the early years of the last century. The consequences for society - for the way we live, work, learn, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even think - promise to be equally profound.Read more ›
This history is interesting in its own right but Carr's reasons for going into it are to shed light on our present. The analogy is made between the change in businesses in the past being responsible for generating their own power to outside companies doing it for them, and today's world, where we increasingly don't need to think about maintaining our own software and computing systems. Today we very rarely need to think about IT, often doing much of our computing online and never needing to maintain the software ourselves. More and more this is done by outside agencies, the most obvious of which is Google.
While history is a good way to analyse our present times, Carr understands that no historical analogy is perfect. The similarities between the revolution in providing power and the revolution in computing are very interesting but so are the differences. This is what Carr focuses on in the second half of his book. His thoughts on the way the Internet is changing the world both socially and economically, are well contrasted to the way electricity revolutionised our lives. He makes the point that in some ways new technology and change is for the better, while in others it is for the worse.
I found this second half to be very thought provoking and disturbing at times. We are often given to understand that the Internet is a force for freedom.Read more ›
Having made this connection (with the implication that utility computing will occasion a revolution of similar magnitude), he goes on to look at aspects of the digital economy ranging from the types of jobs it creates (or, rather, doesn't) to the way in which consumers are able to unbundle their purchases (e.g. individual songs instead of albums, pages and stories instead of newspapers). He considers some of the effects on privacy - how the information that we volunteer about ourselves can be harvested for uses that we aren't aware of, including targeted marketing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A few decent points, but nowadays this book seems very sensational and bears no more relevance than those 1960s poets in San Francisco who raved on about society becoming fused... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mr. T. G. Phillips
Strongly recommend reading this, its a real eye opener, great points on history and interesting facts! Well written and summarised.Published on 8 May 2014 by Z Abbas
And a serious should-read for everybody else. Its predictions have stood up well (the first edition was published just after the arrival of the Kindle and before the iPxxx... Read morePublished on 17 Feb. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Good choice for an entertaining literature although it is not a romance so prepare for some boring moments. In the end it is interesting to select some parts.Published on 12 Sept. 2013 by Ana Andre
Interesting book that demonstrates conclusively that business and personal systems must continue to move into cloud. Read morePublished on 3 Mar. 2012 by David Hurst
This book could be written in one sentence. "It's not about what computer you have, it's about how it's connected. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2012 by Redundant Tramp
Carr continues his argument about "IT doesn't matter", because soon there are enough free applications on the Internet that makes it simpler to use those than to develop computer... Read morePublished on 19 Aug. 2010 by Amazon Reader
A dash it off quick piece of journalistic polemic - Carrs short book (about 200 pages of cheaply printed content) has plenty of interesting things to say about the development of... Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2010 by Lendrick
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