Nicholas Carr is best known for his book Does IT Matter? which argues that the business advantages of Information Technology are becoming less prominent as the playing field is leveling between different businesses with regard to the amount of IT to which they have access.
With The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google Carr looks at how the IT landscape is changing with the increasing availability of cloud computing—moving IT functions away from local servers managed by a company’s employees to services accessed over the Internet. To make his case, Carr spends a sizable chunk of The Big Switch looking at the history of electric power, and how before the establishment of the power grid, providing enough power at a low enough cost was a huge competitive factor for manufacturing businesses, and how the advent of the power grid changed the business landscape.
It’s a compelling analog to the events currently taking place in IT.
Refreshingly enough, The Big Switch doesn’t succumb to Wired-style techno-utopianism, but instead spends time looking at some of the not-so-positive results the increasing power and ubiquitousness of computing will (and do) have on privacy and control of workers.
The Big Switch is clearly written and accessible to people in other fields than IT, and vividly paints the over-arching picture of business and societal change brought by cloud computing.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book in exchange for a promise to post a review.
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