Tuesday, March 02, 2010

deluged (by the attack of the exponential curve babies).

another post that's been swimming in the back of my head (what are those called..."thoughts"?). too bad the Economist [sort of] beat me to it with last week's cover story/special report:

the premise is that the amount of data we, and our many institutions (government, business, science, etc), are receiving are growing by orders of magnitude, year on year. whether it's astronomy labs staring at the sky, the nefarious Wal-Mart's retail databases, or Google's clickstream data (of your web-surfing), there is an absurdly large (and growing amount) of data coming in, and we're barely racing to keep up with it all - whether it be storing, processing, or interpreting it. Moore's Law can only take us so far, and at some point, TONS of data is thrown out. within each respective institution, the report aims to shed some light on the issue, and show how some of these organizations are managing it to their success (and others' demise).

just to make it SEEM like i know what i'm talking about: below's an interesting, intuitive chart from the same report. and if you're wondering how large an Exabyte is, it's 1 BILLION Gigabytes (2^60 bytes, or ~10 billion copies of the Economist). and yes. that's a lot, even for 1's and 0's.

overall, the report (and it's numerous articles, charts, and fancy pictures) made for a great read.
intelligent British journalism: 1; goofy geek blog: 0.

but something was lacking.

what about the effect all this information is having on our social fabric? THAT is what's been keeping me up at night (or what i've been harping on in-person during conversations with many of you fine people). referencing the above curve, the amount of [personally consumable] information available is only going up (literature, film, television, photographs, candy or vegetables -
read this post), and our ability to process it, while increasing, is only growing at a marginal clip. all of this "growth" is usually at the unfortunate collective expense of our wallets (the latest iThing) and attention-span (Twitter?!?)

this shouldn't be a breakthrough thought. but if it is for you, WAKE UP and smell the roses (before they're gone, replaced only by a completely social-interactive simulacrum newsbyte accessed instantaneously on via your Verizon Sky-Net HD smell-o-vision subscription).

your grandfather/grandmother probably has <10>1000 before they're TEN. not to mention all the [HD?] video that's been created + posted on YouTube for the afore-mentioned grandparents to see.

with all that content, how do you decide what's the most important? for our grand/parents, that's easy. but for our generation and progeny, don't even bother to unplug your harddrive, it's probably all in the cloud, on your Facebook/Flickr account (which somebody else owns). but even then, show me the ONE most important picture that you'd want people to remember you by (after you've crash-landed on a desert island). a pretty hard decision, no?

this is just one simple example of something that's manifesting itself in a LOT of ways in the fabric of the space-time continuu...i mean society. got any younger siblings/cousins/interns? TRY having a conversation with them. see how often they're texting/facebooking before you hit the 30-minute mark. i won't even restrict this to the youngsters. got a mother/father/sibling who recently got their iPhone? pay attention to their casual conversation habits with you while you're in the car, shopping, or some other routine activity (disclaimer, we were all this bad at some point, the only difference is a small minority graduate out of it).

it's only going to get worse my friends, and "it" is not closer than you think. you just won't know until it's too late.

TO BE CLEAR: 'm not a knuckle-dragging luddite (really, i'm not). i LOVE the fact that we're quickly moving into an information economy. i can access [almost] any piece of information anytime. think about that. that wasn't remotely possible ~10+ YEARS ago. in fact, it even caused this guy in a 1995 Newsweek article to say the interwebs was just a fad, something i often joke about with my friends when i like to downplay my job. i enjoy (mostly) all things digital. it's where i make my bread and butter. in fact, i use all the bread and butter afforded to me to spend MORE time with all things digital (media consumption, arty-stuff, etc). but i also love spending time with other non-digital things - comic books, friends, travel, talking comic books while traveling with friends, etc.

but "all things digital" are getting ridiculous (i again reference Twitter, and encourage you to TRY watching 30 minutes of CNN without laughing). people are getting too far ahead of themselves, too fast.
i worry that as many steps as this information revolution is taking us forward, we are making a few annoying steps taken back (still further ahead than from where we started).

all that being said, i just worry that with all the noise, we start to lose site of the signal. who knows? maybe in ~10+ years some jackass blog on the holo-webs will link to this post.

goofy geek blog: 1; intelligent British journalism: 1.
we'll meet again soon,
the Economist. how about this Friday at my mailbox?

1 comment:

  1. Any chance you can make me a picture or video which summarises your blog post, words are so passé.


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