A research article published this week declared that the total information stored by humans in 2007 was 295 exabytes. That’s the equivalent of a stack of CDs from here to the moon, and beyond. And…wait. What is an exabyte? It is 1 million terabytes. Now, some of us know what a terabyte is because consumer hard drives are available in TBs. A petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. I’d heard of petabytes before. And petaflops. But until I read news reports about this article, I had never heard of exabytes. Or zettabytes, which is 1,000 exabytes. I checked for what was even bigger than that and learned about yottabytes (who comes up with these names?). The research article only goes up to the year 2007. How much more do we know now? Get used to seeing the term exabyte, like in this article about how mobile data traffic will grow to 75 exabytes annually by 2015.
The Pew Research Center released a report last week based on polling that asked adult respondents what tech gadgets, computers, and consoles they owned. The survey results are broken down among six generations and include devices ranging from cell phones to tablet computers. The report in a nutshell: The younger you are, the more devices you are likely to own. No surprise there. But seeing the numbers through a generational perspective, well, makes me feel old. Ages 18 to 34, the so-called Millennials, are substantially less likely to own a desktop computer than people ages 35 to 66, the Gen X’ers (me, sorta) and Baby Boomers. Millennials are more likely to have a laptop, MP3 player, gaming console than a desktop computer. I love my desktop. It’s like my homebase for global operations. At the other end of the tech-savvy spectrum, 9 percent of adults have none of the devices listed. Major media outlets reporting on the research focused on the broadest results. CNN’s headline read: “Report: 90% of Americans own a computerized gadget.” Agence France-Presse read: “85 percent of US adults own cellphone: survey.” I’m fascinated that 3 percent of adults 75 and older have a game console. You’re never too old to play games. Just look at these folks.