Nicholas Carr sent shock waves through the tech sector with his last book, Does IT Matter. He’s back with a new book called The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google.
He draws a powerful analogy between the history of electricity and the future of computing. He argues that just as the turn of the last century brought a huge shift in electricity production, we’re on the verge of a sea change in the way we use computers. Electricity went from being something individual factories generated for their use, to a centralized utility powering whole cities. Now, computing is moving from something that happens on the hard drive of your computer, to something that happens remotely on server farms. Right now, maybe it’s just your Facebook profile and your Gmail account that live online, but in the future, all your information, and your software, may live online.
The Big Switch is about the massive changes this move to what’s called ‘cloud computing’ may have. For Carr, its effects go beyond the business of technology. Just as electrification changed North American life profoundly, the ‘big switch’ will change economics, culture, and society, raising questions about security, privacy and more.
Nicholas Carr, “The Big Switch”, Spark, 2008/02/01