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The Big Switch: Rewiring the world from Edison to Google NICHOLAS CARR

"The Big Switch is Pulitzer Prize-nominee Nicholas Carr's sweeping and often disturbing look at how a new computer revolution – "the cloud" – is reshaping business, society and culture.

A hundred years ago, companies stopped generating their own power with steam engines and dynamos and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities didn’t just change how businesses operate. It set off a chain reaction of economic and social transformations that brought the modern world into existence. Today, a similar revolution is under way. Hooked up to the Internet’s global computing grid, massive information-processing plants have begun pumping data and software code into our homes and businesses. This time, it’s computing that’s turning into a utility.

The shift is already remaking the computer industry, bringing new competitors like Google and Salesforce.com to the fore and threatening stalwarts like Microsoft and Dell. But the effects will reach much further. Cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did. We can already see the early effects — in the shift of control over media from institutions to individuals, in debates over the value of privacy, in the export of the jobs of knowledge workers, even in the growing concentration of wealth. As information utilities expand, the changes will only broaden, and their pace will only accelerate.

Nicholas Carr, author of the acclaimed The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, is the ideal guide to explain this historic upheaval. Writing in a lucid, engaging style, he weaves together history, economics and technology to describe how and why computers are changing — and what it means for all of us. From the software business to the newspaper business, from job creation to community formation, from national defense to personal identity, The Big Switch provides a panoramic view of the new world being conjured from the circuits of the “World Wide Computer.”" from www.nicolasgcarr.com

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  • Wendy

    A lot of fun - looking forward to the next one.

    August 21, 2013

    • Joana

      I enjoyed it very much. I was happy that my first experience in this reading book club was very interesting.

      August 21, 2013

  • David S.

    Very good session and discussion

    August 20, 2013

  • Dagmar

    Great discussion and lots of food for though. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    August 20, 2013

  • Sonja

    Sorry to miss this!

    August 20, 2013

  • RK

    This deals with some of the issues in the book regarding centralization: "The Internet: We're doing it wrong" http://tinyurl.com/me79t7g

    August 19, 2013

  • matthew

    Are we supposed to finish this entire book?

    August 18, 2013

    • RK

      Hi Matthew -- the premise for the discussion is to read the book, so we don't do a recap at the meeting. You can still attend if you haven't read it. I personally find the discussion to be more enjoyable if I've read the book, and usually the people who participate the most (or the most thoughtfully) have read it. If you don't have time, the next best thing is to read reviews, which you can often find on Amazon or elsewhere on the web. The time from the poll when the book is selected to the meeting is usually around 6-7 weeks. Rose

      August 19, 2013

    • Dagmar

      Hi Rose, I'm in the unfortunate position that there are so many holds on this book in the library that I still haven't received my copy, which seems to speak to the popularity of the book but leaves members having to purchase it if one wants to read it in order to be able to participate in the discussion. I will take your advice and read reviews so that I have at least a little better idea of what the book is all about and I will attend tomorrow night if only to listen to what others have to say about it.

      August 19, 2013

  • Dagmar

    Enjoyed reading the article suggest by RK yesterday on the automation of higher education. The article is a little older and I'd be interested in learning more about this topic, in particular where we stand on this now. Have things taken a turn for the better? Or the worse? Hope that we will touch on this one as well on Tuesday.

    August 18, 2013

  • Harriet C.

    Unfortunately, something came up and I can't attend now.

    August 18, 2013

  • Dagmar

    Glad I made it in and look forward to this event. See you Tuesday.

    August 18, 2013

  • RK

    One of the subjects in the book is automation, something we usually think of in relation to factory work. Here, a professor at York writing over 10 years ago, describes how automation was being applied to the work of professors in academia "Diploma Mills: the Automation of higher education" http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/569/490, something that is even more in the forefront with the advent of MOOCs (massive open online course)

    August 17, 2013

  • Florence-Marie

    (cont'd)
    Industrialized countries are dependent on electricity so it's for new technology. Let's talk about it. Electricity brought the possibility to create a computerized world. We are like robot needing their fuel whenever something new comes out in the market. It's brand new we just run.

    That's a general point of view.

    1 · August 16, 2013

  • Florence-Marie

    Hi everyone! I can't meet up! Unfortunately I do have another appointment at the same time.

    I did enjoy reading that book. It easy to read, you just refuse to close down until you done with that.

    It's quite interesting as the title quote that Edison came out with the light in a bulb, starting from that we have the gathering of electricity in a center to widespread cities in electricity. That was a powerful idea coming also from his personal secretary Ensull. Nowadays we cannot go out without electricity. I watched on the news the attitude of people during the blackout 10 years ago. They were disappointed and aimless. When we know that in certain parts of the world people don't have access to electricity and for those who may offer that, times to times there exists a cutting off of power. And you know what is interesting, they do have petrol lamp and they continue to do their duties like it is not the end of the world.

    1 · August 16, 2013

  • George H.

    My library hold just arrived so this meetup is now impossible. Will try for the next one.

    August 16, 2013

  • Dagmar

    Hi, I couldn't get the book in time from the library. Too many holds from other readers; should I make it in I won't have read it but will gladly listen in to the discussion.

    1 · August 15, 2013

  • Carol

    Won't get the book in time to finish it. Sorry.

    August 13, 2013

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