Information Today

According to this post, Google can “can hold an entire copy of the web in memory, all the world’s written information on disk, and still have plenty of room for logs and other data sets.”  Greg says:

A standard Google server appears to have about 16G RAM and 2T of disk. If we assume Google has 500k servers (which seems like a low-end estimate given they used 25.5k machine years of computation in Sept 2009 just on MapReduce jobs), that means they can hold roughly 8 petabytes of data in memory and, after x3 replication, roughly 333 petabytes on disk. For comparison, a large web crawl with history, the Internet Archive, is about 2 petabytes and “the entire [written] works of humankind, from the beginning of recorded history, in all languages” has been estimated at 50 petabytes, so it looks like Google easily can hold an entire copy of the web in memory, all the world’s written information on disk, and still have plenty of room for logs and other data sets. Certainly no shortage of storage at Google.

This morning I chatted via video with my brother in Dubai, this was done via Skype. My daughter talked to his daughter who was literally half the world away. And all this produces a yawn. I can see everything that has ever been written uploaded, searchable, translated, stored and easily retrieved and it will produce boredom in most of the population.

I think there are going to be some huge breakthroughs in medicine, communication, theology and all kinds of other fields in the next century due to this awe-striking mass of information. And yet, talking to my brother on a screen is about as exciting as making toast – the awe-factor is gone in an age jaded by so many astounding breakthroughs. I guess that’s how life always goes.

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