The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

By Nicholas Carr

W.W. Norton & Company

In The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr builds on an argument familiar in his previous books - IT was necessary but didn't confer competitive advantage. He argues organizations will inevitably abandon data centers, PCs and most locally installed software for cheap, utility-supplied computing.

Carr draws heavily on a detailed analogy: the electrical utilities that changed how the world worked a century ago.

The historical romp helps to set up the darker half of his thesis that Thomas Edison was wrong about how electrical utilities would develop, and he couldn't see the myriad uses of electricity if it was stable, reliable and economical.

Carr repeats the widespread view of technological neutrality. Yet, he later reveals a strong technological determinism, warning, "It should come as no surprise, then, that most of the major advances in computing and networking ... have been spurred not by a desire to liberate the masses but by the need for greater control on the part of commercial and governmental bureaucrats."

This threat puts our societies at risk and could lead to the loss of individual autonomy as we conform to the preferences of the utility-powered "World Wide Computer."

Unlocking Public Value: A New Model for Achieving High Performance in Public Service Organizations

By Martin Cole and Greg Parston

John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Martin Cole and Greg Parston's book adapts "core concepts of private-sector shareholder value analysis," and gives government officials a set of tools and frameworks to define, measure and ultimately improve public performance.

Unlocking Public Value aims to help public managers maintain progress using consistent and clearly articulated outcomes that will make their organization more accountable in taxpayers' eyes, elected officials and the media.

Cole and Parston present the Public Service Value Model to improve government performance. The authors stress the importance of focusing on outcomes (which are measure against expenditures across time) rather than outputs.

The book provides a welcome template for how government can break away from the past and show that the public sector does have a bottom line for measuring success.

Public Information Technology and E-Governance: Managing the Virtual State

By G. David Garson

Jones and Bartlett

Public Information Technology and E-Governance provides a comprehensive overview of the political issues raised by information policy in the public sector and administrative issues that managers will likely encounter in governing the virtual state.

Authored by G. David Garson, the book blends theory with practice on everything from e-democracy, access and privacy to information planning, partnerships and project management. Each chapter begins on a theoretical note, then covers the main dimensions of the topic, and is followed by one or two case studies, a glossary and discussion questions.

Public Information Technology and E-Governance breaks ground as the first textbook for public administration schools covering the entire field of public-sector IT policies and management.

Innovations in E-Government: The Thoughts of Governors and Mayors

Edited by Erwin A. Blackstone, Michael L. Bognanno and Simon Hakim

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Innovation in E-Government communicates that e-government can structurally improve public-sector operations and services, using anecdotal experiences from governors and mayors around the country who describe their own experiences with making government more e-friendly.

Editors Erwin Blackstone, Michael Bognanno and Simon Hakim believe new technologies in e-government "will enable a smaller, leaner and more responsive government." The essays are part of the framework that addresses internal government efficiency and service delivery to citizens.