Nicholas Carr is known to many for his book,
Does IT Matter His new book, The Big Switch, is just as provocative and one that I recommend for stimulating your thinking about many of our businesses today. Carr provides the reader with a background on the electric industry and its evolution from private company and municipality driven systems to standardized and large public utilities empowering the widespread usage of electrical appliances. He envisions a similar transformation with computers and cites the widespread influence of “server farms” being established by Google, Microsoft, Dell, Yahoo!,
and IBM. Carr predicts that computing power and consistency will be as standardized and as inexpensive as electricity at some point in the future. The prohibitive costs of establishing a business utilizing computers will decline substantially, resulting in the empowerment of individuals to begin, manage, and grow large-scale businesses, capitalizing on their intellectual property. Monetary capital won’t be the driver, intellectual capital will be.
Carr’s premise reinforces the importance of obtaining an education. I might extrapolate that his theory, combined with Tom Friedman’s premise about the globalization of business services and manufacturing through technology improvements (The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century) should be a wake-up call to those of us in education and to policy-makers cognizant of America’s need to maintain its competitive standing globally.