The Big Switch is a Big Flop

Filed Under (Business Books) by Rajesh Kumar on 28-06-2008

Nicolas Carr became famous worldwide when his earlier paper (and then book) kicked up quite a storm. It was titled ‘Does IT Matter’ and argued that IT was no more to give a strategic advantage to any one corporation or entity over other – it would at best¬† help establish parity. While people are still trying to get over Mr. Carr’s simplistic logic carried in that gem of an argument, he has come out with another piece of work- I personally feel this is another piece of disappointment from Mr Carr. For the records, Nicolas Carr is the former executive editor of Harvard Business Review and has NYT, FT & Wired and this book is called The Big Switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google.

First, the title. Does it represent:

- Switch ~ Exchange(As in a telephone exchange where you get connected to one another)?

- Switch~ Change?

- Switch~ Mr. Carr’s volte-face in going from digital pessimism to digital euphoria between Does IT Matter and The Big Switch?

The books begins with a little lowdown of the great inventor Thomas Edison. Edison and his team were behind the great electricity grid- prior to that, though companies were using electricity, but all was generated and consumed inhouse. And no, towns were not litup the way they are now. The consumers suddenly were not required to worry about generation of electricity, they merely had to open the tap. The net, according to Nicolas Carr, provides the same sense of aggregation, when it comes to data and computing is now more of a service.. He also hints that the world is now on the cusp of possibilities provided by such an aggregation. Why just hint, he talks about them in great details and liberally mentions about Napster, Google, Myspace, MyBlogLog, spam, search, Blackberry,YouTube, Standards, Gates & Page &¬† Brin etc in support of his ‘argument’. He also mentions quite expectedly mentions about Nicolas Negroponte , David Wise, Jagdish Bhagwati and so on.Why, he even mentions about offshoring as a phenomenon.

What is the point he seeks to make? He points to the twin phenomenon of aggregation and unbundling, both happening at the same time, when it comes to computing in general, and added to the net. The book does not have the clever language that one sees in books such as Wikinomics that can hold your attention, nor does seem to have a thematic thread such as in Blink. If you have been alive to the net and computing in last ten years, this would appear as bland restatement of facts, rather than any trendspotting or a hypothesis. Would I recommend you to buy this? Stay away is my advice.

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    About Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh is based in Chennai, where he works for Defiance Technologies in Marketing. The views on this blog are his own. Rajesh Kumar