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The World Wide Computer, monopolies and control

Ian Lamont (1116549) writes | more than 6 years ago

The Internet 0

Ian Lamont writes "Nick Carr has generated a lot of discussion following his recent comments about the IT department fading away, but there are several other points he is trying to make about the rise of utility computing. First, he believes that the Web has evolved into a massive, programmable computer (the "World Wide Computer") that essentially lets any person or organization "program the Internet." This relates to another trend he sees — a shift toward centralization:

Originally I thought the modularity of computing implied that we could have a very diverse set of suppliers whose services would be joined together through a lot of industry standards. So my initial imagination of the utility industry was of a lot of different companies doing different specialized things and competing with each other in a way that you don't see with electricity, which tends naturally to become a local monopoly. There's no reason that computing needs to be a local monopoly, since you can supply these things in many different ways from many different places.

More recently, though, I think we've seen a lot of pressures to centralize and build utility data centers of really massive scale, which requires a lot of money and a lot of expertise. That implies that we'll see a great deal of centralization in the industry. If that does come true, if we have monopolies or oligopolies begin to form, I think inevitably we'll see more governmental regulation the way we see with other utilities.
Carr says in a book excerpt printed on his blog that while decentralized technologies — the PC, Internet, etc. — can empower individuals, institutions have proven to be quite skilled at reestablishing control. "Even though the Internet still has no center, technically speaking, control can now be wielded, through software code, from anywhere. What's different, in comparison to the physical world, is that acts of control become harder to detect and those wielding control more difficult to discern.""
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