Mapper since: April 14, 2021
Tying history together with technology, Nicholas Carr demonstrates the evolutionary pattern of computing in a nonfiction bestseller titled, The Big Switch. Read next, I will write my paper in detail.
To get something done right, use a machine. This statement appeals to those who believe the machine is perfect. Man has always endeavored to create tools that make work easier. Even in the new millennium, machines have a hold on human ingenuity. Nicholas Carr’s bestselling book, The Big Switch, presents the audience with a challenge to understand inventions of modern technology and how to harness their power for the good of civilization.
It was the invention of one the machine—the Burden’s the wheel—that began a chain reaction of magnificent proportions. According to Carr, Henry Burden’s 1851 creation was a gigantic water wheel that could generate 500 horsepower and enough energy to mechanize manufacturing processes. Yet, as time went on, the utility business swept away the need for power generation.
Breakthroughs in science propelled the industrialization of mechanical power-generation toward electric utilities and the large-scale distribution of electrical power to consumers from central locations or stations. Because water wheels were general-purpose technologies, they were not centralized, and this caused their inevitable downfall in the new era of democratized utilities.
The contributions of Thomas Edison and his desire to harness electricity for the purpose of allocating power to buyers in industry and homeowners are described in the book’s first section. Carr reveals Edison’s passionate ambition to replace archaic and dangerous methods, like gaslight systems, with new and improved electricity-driven systems. Carr further explains how electric power became commonplace, private power plants sprang up, and consumers paid less for service.
From electrification, Carr moves to the history of computerization. Espousing his own philosophy about the evolution of the general purpose technology (GPT) to a broad network of interconnected systems, Carr insists that invention is the mother of economic forces, not necessity. Here, he ties technological boon times to economic upturns in society in which essential products or services become supplied at centralized locations.
With uncomplicated flair, Carr highlights information without a textbook tone. Giving the reader a look at the progression in technical advances during the mid-nineteenth century until the early twenty-first century, Carr is a master storyteller. His readers are glued to the page, as they learn how the punch-card tabulator triggered the birth of the information technology (IT) industry and the creation of large mainframe computers led to the invention of minicomputers.
Using his down-to-earth style, Carr moves into part two of The Big Switch, which is aptly titled, “Living in the Cloud.” The advent of the Web generation and its effect on IT in a digital world is covered in great detail. Careful not to overuse technical jargon, Carr smoothly explains the development of the Internet and its connection to the utility-computing grid, a centralized virtual supercomputer that distributes workloads to other computers.
Accordingly, there is a plethora of online companies, such as Google, YouTube, AOL, eBay, and Craigslist, that are relevant to the advancement of Web-based capabilities in the digital age. For example, I can just pay someone to write my paper instead of writing myself. The Big Switch is a metaphor for the global IT development phase of today’s computing systems. Although developments in technology are usually beneficial to the economy, Carr stresses that cultural impoverishment and social fragmentation are also likely to occur.
The Big Switch is not only a technology book, but it is also a guide book, a record of history that helps society to avoid repeating past mistakes. Above all, Carr hopes to give people insights into how to regulate and control these huge computerized systems. Wiring the world with accessible and functional technology is the key to a future of successful inventions that will endure the test of time.
“All technological change is generational change” (Carr, 2009, p. 233). This statement is Carr’s concluding remark, and it can also be considered the thesis of The Big Switch. As civilization advances, so does its ability to adapt to historical trends that reflect economic patterns. Carr teaches his audience that technology is the tool that keeps building the dreams of mankind.