Thursday, January 19, 2006

Information Overload Storage Management

An attempt to estimate how much new information is created each year. Newly created information is distributed in four storage media – print, film, magnetic, and optical – and seen or heard in four information flows – telephone, radio and TV, and the Internet. This study of information storage and flows analyzes the year 2002 in order to estimate the annual size of the stock of new information contained in storage media, and heard or seen each year in information flows.

Big improvements in the performance of storage media come not a moment too soon. The world now produces as much as 2 exabytes (million terabytes) of unique information per year, according to researchers at the University of California at Berkeley. That's 250MB for every person on earth.

That information is stored on paper, film and magnetic media, about two-thirds of it on computer disk drives. Shipments of computer disks are doubling each year, according to Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS).

SIMS says three "striking facts" emerged from its study of information storage. The first, SIMS says, is the "paucity of print." Printed material of all kinds makes up less than 0.003% of the total storage of information. "This doesn't imply that print is insignificant," SIMS says at their website. "Quite the contrary: It simply means that the written word is an extremely efficient way to convey information."

The second striking fact is the "democratization of data." Original documents created by office workers account for more than 80% of all original paper documents, and 55% of all hard-disk data is installed in single-user desktop computers. "A century ago, the average person could only create and access a small amount of information," SIMS says. "Now, ordinary people not only have access to huge amounts of data, but are also able to create gigabytes of data themselves and, potentially, publish it to the world via the Internet."

The third interesting finding is the "dominance of digital" content, according to SIMS. "Not only is digital information production the largest in total, it is also the most rapidly growing," the school says. "While unique content on print and film are hardly growing at all, optical and digital magnetic storage shipments are doubling each year. Even today, most textual information is born digital, and within a few years, this will be true for images as well."

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