Last week, we poked a little fun at Nicholas Carr for comparing the IT industry to an electric utility, claiming that centralization is the obvious end result. Carr was kind enough to email me after that post with a full copy of his latest article to show the details of his argument. He runs through the case that companies started with their own power generators, and eventually realized it was cheaper and more efficient just to buy power from a centralized utility. Carr believes computing power will go in the same direction. Of course, there's one problem, which we noted last week: there's a growing trend to move back to decentralized electricity. In fact, it appears to be a hot investment area. The fine folks at Silicon Beat point to an article revealing the details behind one of Kleiner Perkins stealthy energy investments. The company is building small fuel cell power plants designed to help power small buildings. The technology is still pretty early on, but it shows, once again, that trends in centralization and decentralization tend to swing back and forth. There are benefits to both things. While many of today's tasks might be better off with a centralized computing system, the decentralized nature of computing power might be viewed more as an opportunity than a wasted resource, as Carr implies.
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