In 1989, Francis Fukuyama, then deputy director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff (now professor at John Hopkins) predicted the fall of Communism and the world beyond in an article titled “The end of history”. In 1992 he elaborated his thoughts in a book.
He explained himself thus: “This did not mean that the natural cycle of birth, life, and death would end, that important events would no longer happen, or that newspapers reporting them would cease to be published. It meant, rather, that there would be no further progress in the development of underlying principles and institutions, because all of the really big questions had been settled.”
His views brought him instant fame as a neo-conservative. The Berlin Wall fell a few months after his article and he looked prophetic. He has also borne criticism since as Iraq, 9/11, new world realities emerged that challenged “the end of history” thinking. His recent criticism of the Bush administration has made him even more controversial.
Nicholas Carr is trying to be the IT industry’s Fukuyama. He stirred up the industry with his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “IT doesn’t matter” and a book similarly titled. To his credit, he has faithfully kept track on his site of comments/reviews of his theme. He has been savaged in a number of those reviews. He persists, though. Borrowing from Fukuyama, Carr followed up last month with an article called “The end of corporate computing” . He projects a move to “utility computing”, similar to how companies moved away from proprietary power generation to buying it from large, more efficient utilities. Having argued the point in 2003 that IT does not matter, now he justifies outsourcing all or most of it.
Both Fukuyama and Carr serve a useful purpose – they challenge conventional thinking. Carr also appears to have a very good sense of humor - always welcome in the tech world. But....
Margaret Thatcher, one of the major contributors to the Fall of communism, and conservative herself is said to have reacted to Fukuyama’s article thus “The end of history? The beginning of nonsense….”
I am myself a big fan of outsourcing done well but my reaction to Carr on his views are in the posting “The end of corporate computing? The beginning of chaos…”