A Zettabyte Is Big. Really Big.

zettabyte-blog.jpgA colleague and I sometimes laugh about weird headlines. My favorites from the past week or so include “Fearsome Lawn Ornament Shot Dead by Cops,” “Proven: Sharks Love AC/DC” and “Roads to Close for Zombie Mayhem in Atlanta Suburb.”

But this headline got me not for its humor, but for being totally and completely unfathomable: “Global Internet Traffic Is Expected to Quadruple by the Year 2015.”

Read the story and you find out that Internet data flow levels area expected to reach nearly 1 zettabyte per year in just four years. For the record, my spell check hates the word zettabyte, and I’m not fond of it either. But if you want to at least attempt to comprehend how much information that is, it’s the equivalent of all the digital data in existence in 2010. So, to reiterate, just a handful of years from now we’re slated to create all of the decades of information we see today in one year.

I think it was Buckminster Fuller who said that if a person wants to radically change the world he should invent a device that the world can’t live without. Well, it seems our 21st-century world can’t live without the Internet. And I wonder if we’ll ever know exactly the profundity of how it’s changing us.

So I’ll leave you with this whopper of a (made-up) headline: “World Wastes $15.3 Trillion in Lost Productivity While Trying to Figure Out How Big a Zettabyte Is.” No. That’s not crazy enough. How about this real one: “Man With Dead Weasel Arrested for Assault.”

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

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