The New Cloud In Your Life Called Zettabyte

All kinds of clouds in our life. Storm clouds, cumulus clouds, clouds-of-dust-and-a-hearty-hi-o-Silver.

The one that now counts the most is the one you and I understand the least. That invisible global accumulation of humanity’s everyday data. Data from think tanks and basement bloggers…from our billion-dollar military complexes to our secret band of hackers…from the local college campus and medical center to the international Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the IMF in Washington.

It’s been estimated that the accumulated knowledge of humanity first doubled by about 1800. That mass doubled by 1900. That mass by 1950. Well, you get the staggering exponentiality of it…! By the year 2020, some of these cloud-makers estimate this permanently stored leviathan of digital information at our disposal will be 35 zettabytes.

What in God’s name is a zettabyte?

Funny you should ask. A zettabyte is a 1 followed by 21 zeros. Now let me put that into a very simplistic example. When you and I hear the traffic report on our station, the rapid-fire reporter sounds something like this: “Traffic from the Loop interchange to 53 south is 40…from the Ike to I94 28… Edens at Peterson 13 to the Willow cutoff now backed up 45 from 295…reverse lanes in all directions currently closed.”


Not sure about you, but when that’s read in 7 seconds while I’m maneuvering on the Rockford cutoff behind ten semi’s, frankly I don’t understand what the hell she just told me! And that, my confused computerized colleagues, is the tiniest fraction of an example of how it is beginning to feel in a world where there now exists a billion billion more clouds of information than the human brain can effectively gather… sift…interpret…understand…and [the real crunch-point] use.

Does that mean we turn off the Cloud…? We can’t. Turn off our minds…? We shouldn’t. Start eating our lunch everyday lazily staring up at the real clouds…? That last one has a nice feel to it. Only…!

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  • My philosophy is to take it one byte at a time. Easier to digest that way.

  • Aquinas ~ Good advice...and even that, sometimes, is too much. But there's no turning back now....

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