"The Big Switch": Thank you Nick Carr

One of the blogs I read regularly is Rough Type by Nick Carr, it covers trends in technology and also has a generally dubious take on trends in Web 2.0 and the value, both psychic and monetary, of online social networks (Myspace, Facebook, etc.). This subject matter is a happy convergence of personal and professional interests for me, in my job (recruiting for a major consulting firm) it helps me to be conversant with technology trends like Software as a Service, trends in data centers & 'cloud computing', the strategic direction of firms like SAP and Oracle, etc.

On a personal level, I am curious and somewhat appalled about how Google is becoming the modern oracle (in the original, Greek meaning of the word) and acquiring vast stores of information about me and my activities online. Why is this company getting such a pass in the court of public opinion? Probably because one of its main competitors, Microsoft, is both relatively inept and quite unloved... Why is Google Adsense such a huge money generator? Why does advertising have to be so pervasive and why won't people pay for online content? Could Google go the way of Netscape -- huge in the 90's, basically non-existent today? And isn't there something just a little creepy and unnerving about what goes on at the Googleplex in Mount View, CA.? Rough Type covers these topics and the writing is both sharp and accessible.

Anyway Nick Carr has a new book, The Big Switch, coming out in 2008, and in November there was a blog post offering 100 free copies of the book to bloggers, no strings attached [Note, this offer has expired]. Thankfully there were no restrictions on either blog subject matter, or levels of readership, or Midnight Modern Conversation would not have made the cut. I sent in my name, and a very few days later a pre-publication copy of the book showed up. It looks to be a very accessible (not dry, heavy and academic) take of the same themes that are discussed on Rough Type. My office shuts down between Christmas and New Years so maybe I will post a short review here over the holidays, but for now, the book is available for pre-order on the sites of the major online booksellers.

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