Recently, there has been a great deal of talk about the viability of the "utility model," the idea that information, just like water, gas, electricity and phone service, should be provided on demand via some sort of largely transparent conduit. It's an important concept and already a powerful IT industry trend, but I suspect I'm not the only one perplexed by the odd disconnect between rhetoric and reality.
Part of the problem is the word utility itself. Last I checked, most utility companies were still quasi-monopolies known for plodding, if generally reliable, service. Despite recent attempts at deregulation, it would be hard to think of a less innovative and dynamic part of the U.S. economy. It's telling that the broadcast business, which employs a similar automated delivery model, never refers to itself in this way. Neither should the IT industry. Utility has all the wrong connotations.
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