Our Digital Age Began in 2002

By one measure: That's when analog storage took a back seat
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 11, 2011 1:38 PM CST
The world holds some 295 exabytes of data.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Humanity broadcasts a mind-boggling amount of information daily—try 1.9 zettabytes on for size, says a USC study. In other words, each person is hit with 174 newspapers’ worth of information every day, the Daily Mail reports. Meanwhile, computers, libraries, DVD collections, and newspapers can store some 295 exabytes—a figure with 20 zeroes—of information. A stat easier to handle: 2002 is the first year in which the world's digital storage capacity became larger than analog capacity.

All those zettabytes and exabytes may seem incredible, but the figures are “still minuscule compared to the order of magnitude at which nature handles information,” says a researcher. That 295 exabytes is equivalent to less than 1% of the information stored in a person’s DNA. Among his other findings: the world’s information storage capacity has grown by 28% a year since 1986. And while in 2000 75% of information was stored by analog means—paper, books, videotape—by 2007, 94% was stored digitally.

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