Sunday, October 11, 2009


Digital Rabbits

Here is an interview that affords another peek into this world of so-called “big data.” When asked about present and future data volumes, the interviewee says:
Today, we're looking at 1.5 petabytes of storage. [A petabyte is a million billion bytes.] If you just take the current growth curves and take it out over 20 years, you get numbers that are absolutely staggering.
If that’s staggering to people who are in the business, then it’s incomprehensible to mere mortals like us who have trouble visualizing the gigabyte-scale of storage on our own computers. Yet, capacity has to be found to store all of these data and always have them available. The interviewee is hoping for some kind of magic technological breakthrough, but absent such an event, some hard choices will have to be made. And indeed he admits that managing data is “getting harder and harder to deal with.”

But that’s actually small potatoes in comparison with that data pack rat, the US National Security Agency (NSA), which — having maxed out the grid at its own headquarters in Maryland — is busily constructing mammoth hutches in Utah and Texas for its rapidly growing family of digital rabbits. On this topic I direct the reader’s attention to this article, whose subject is not NSA’s data-gathering per se, but of great interest nonetheless.

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