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Avant Garde Electrical Grid – Cloud Computing: The World Wide Computer

1004 words - 5 pages

Is your brain cluttered with precious memories and brilliant ideas? Why not store it in the cloud? In the beginning were humans and humans were computers. Even a simple mathematical calculation and a tiny storage of data consume huge processing power of the human brain. With the passing of time, crunching of information became simpler with the advent of computers and storage of information became easier with the introduction of cloud services but these developments threaten the way humans live and operate. This is the general theme of the book “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google”.

In his book, Nicholas Carr argues that just like electricity, which was once produced and ...view middle of the document...

The book is divided into two main parts: In the first half of the book, Carr explains about the evolution of electricity and the revolution which was brought about by electrification and argues that computing will follow the same path and I found this part engrossing and enlightening because of the historical references. In the later half, 2 Living in the Cloud, Carr explains about the social, economic and cultural aftershocks experienced by the introduction of new technologies especially the internet, citing examples of electric grid revolution to support his argument.

Electricity and Computing

In the early 19th century, businesses harnessed their own power locally through water or steam. Carr makes historical references of Thomas Edison and his former clerk and protégé Samuel Insull. The former believed in direct current which cannot be distributed over long distances and the later believed in alternating current and foresaw that AC would replace the local generators in companies enabling the supply of electricity by public utilities over longer distances. 3 Scott McNealy, Co-founder of Sun Microsystems aptly quotes:

“The utility model computing – computing resources delivered over the network in much the same what that electricity or telephone service reaches our homes and offices today – makes more sense than ever”

Carr says information technology underwent the same democratization, as electricity did centuries ago. Information Technology became accessible to every company.

4“What happened to the generation of power a century ago is now happening to the processing of information. Private computer systems, built and operated by individual companies, are being supplanted by services provided by a common grid – the Internet – by centralized data processing plants”

He uses electrification as a reference to point out how the switch from decentralization to centralization of information technology has altered our culture, society and our way of life – from entertainment to education, from newspapers to online magazines, from factory workers to office workers, from...

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