Five exabytes of new data were created in 2002. – That is 5E18* bytes of unique information.
(xEy* == *x**10[sup]y[/sup])
According to the UC-Berkeley website:
So, as measured by the semi-standard metric for data storage (the US Library of Congress, or LoC), we created 500,000 LoCs in 2002. That’s 5E5 times the amount of data contained in the LoC.
To put that number in semi-human terms, thats 800 MB (mega-bytes, where mega-x is equal to xE6)* per human on Earth (roughly 6 billion). 800 MB was the capacity of a good-sized hard drive less than five years ago, and it was an amount of storage quite beyond practicality less than thirty years ago.
*(I didn’t choose the prefixes. UC-Berkeley did. I would have chosen the base-two exbi- (2[sup]60[/sup]) and mebi- (2[sup]20[/sup]), but I didn’t run the study.)
Suddenly, hard drive manufacturing looks like a huge growth industry.
Of course, the Good Scientist put it best: