Information explosion

Information created in 2002 would fill 500,000 U.S. Libraries of Congress: study

The information explosion is continuing, as enough new information was created around the world last year to fill 500,000 U.S. Libraries of Congress, according to a study out of the University of California at Berkeley.

There was about five billion gigabytes of new data created in 2002, which works out to about 800 megabytes per person. Translated into paper terms, that’s the equivalent of a stack of books nine metres (or 30 feet) high for every person.

It represents a 30 per cent increase since 1999, the last year the study was conducted.

The study also underscored the fact that the paperless office is a myth that just isn’t materializing. The amount of information stored on paper, including books, journals and other office documents, increased by up to 43 per cent since 1999.

“We though in our (last) study that film and paper would head toward digital formats,” Peter Lyman, a professor at the university, told the Reuters news agency.

But with paper, that hasn’t been the case as many people access their documents on a computer and then end up printing them out, he said.

The study received funding from Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and EMC — technology firms that deal with managing information.

Lyman said his next research will focus on how useful all the information is and what is actually being done with it.

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