April 16, 2008

Book Review - Big Switch

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google
Nicholas Carr
QA 76.9 .C66 C38 2008

This book is a combination of history, economics, and technology. Carr believes that technology, specifically computing power, is becoming a utility, following a similar path to electricity. In the nineteenth century, companies generated their own electrical power using steam engines. In the early 20th century, however, large power plants were built and companies, not to mention individuals, were able to obtain electricity inexpensively through the growing power grid. Carr sees the same trend happening in the twenty-first century as companies such as Google, Yahoo, and other smaller companies provide software and computing capability at low cost through the internet. Both of these transitions, he asserts, set of a cascade of social change beginning with the way that companies operate and continuing into shifts of control away from companies and toward individuals, the role of personal privacy, and the increase in jobs for information professionals. This is an interesting perspective on the role that the internet is and will play in our society.