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10/2/2007
05:31 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Nick Carr's New Book: 'The Big Switch'

Circle the date: Jan. 7, 2008. Yes, just three months from now, the guy who first said "IT Doesn't Matter" and then changed his approach to "Does IT Matter?" comes out with a new book. Nick Carr's upcoming work will chronicle the ways in which "companies are beginning to dismantle their private computer systems and tap into rich services delivered over the Internet," according to remarks on his home page.

Circle the date: Jan. 7, 2008. Yes, just three months from now, the guy who first said "IT Doesn't Matter" and then changed his approach to "Does IT Matter?" comes out with a new book. Nick Carr's upcoming work will chronicle the ways in which "companies are beginning to dismantle their private computer systems and tap into rich services delivered over the Internet," according to remarks on his home page.Not surprisingly, Carr reprises his thesis that computing is becoming a utility, and it looks like the next book will focus more on the external repercussions of this "technological revolution" whereas Carr's earlier works explored the internal impacts within companies. Carr's home-page teaser for the new book says, "cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did."

Called "The Big Switch," the new book draws this comment from an early reviewer: " 'The Big Switch' impressively discusses the positive and negative aspects of the coming 'World Wide Computer' " -- that's from Thomas P. Hughes, Mellon Professor Emeritus in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of History and Sociology of Science.

As I noted when Carr's original "IT Doesn't Matter" article in the Harvard Business Review set off a compelling debate, I might disagree with the guy's position, but I congratulate him on setting off an important discussion that challenged some long-held ideas that needed to be tossed overboard. On top of that, all of Carr's writing that I've come across has been lucid, engaging, and thought provoking. Whether you find yourself a staunch supporter of Carr's ideas or end up wondering what planet he's been living on for the past decade, his work forces us to consider everyday issues and beliefs in ways that will likely lead to better decisions.

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