Archive for May 29th, 2010

The Digital Universe Decade

Saturday, May 29th, 2010 by Roberto Saracco

Take a look at the latest report from IDC, “the Digital Universe Decade: are you ready?”, www.emc.com/digital_universe .

According to this report by 2020 we will have complete the shift from analogue to digital: by that time all the content being produced and exchanged will be digital, and that means 35 trillion on GB per year.

Some statistics:

-         last year despite the global recession, the Digital Universe set a record. It grew by 62% to nearly 800 EB (800,000,000,000 GB). That is like a stack of DVD reaching from the Earth to the Moon and back.

-         In 2010, the Digital Universe will grow to almost 1.2 ZB (ZettaBytes), that is 1,200,000,000,000 GB

-         By 2020, our Digital Universe will be 44 times as big as it was in 2009. Our stack of DVD would reach half way to Mars.

This tremendous increase in the amount of information begs some questions, like:

-         How will we find the information we need when we need it?

-         How will we know what information we need to keep and how will we keep it?

-         How will we follow the growing number of government and industry rules about retaining records, tracking transactions and ensuring information privacy?

-         How will we protect the information we need to protect?

The report provides several possible answers to these questions and you can refer to it to look at them.

However, the reason for my posting, in addition to share with you this very recent report on our Digital Universe, is to engage you in reflecting on how this growing Digital Universe is impacting on our capacity of learning and how can we change, if needed, our current learning paradigm.

It is not just the growth of the information that is begging the question about learning, it is also the different tools that we are making available that may change the way we learn and the goal of learning.

It is obvious that already today there is no chance anybody can learn whatever is out there. Besides, even assuming one can, by the time she had learnt everything that everything will be but a small part of the information available since every two years we are doubling the available information.

We are condemned to have an outdated knowledge.

Probably, in the future we will need to focus learning on the tools that allow us to make sense of available information, rather than trying to capture as much information as possible into our brains.

Yes, I can hear a multitude of teachers telling me that we are going to create a humanity that does not know how to make 2+2 since they will resort to typing 2+2 onto a keyboard and read the answer. Still this is what we already do. I remember long time ago learning to use the calculating ruler to make multiplications. Nowadays most people wouldn’t know how to use it but today all of us get much more precise results by using a calculator.

What about learning languages? Using Google you can get now a pretty understandable translation of any foreign language (far from perfect, I know, but in ten years time it will be …perfect) and in a few years we can expect to get real time translation of what we say and what we hear. Shall we invest time in learning another language? I would say yes, but I am a guy born in a different era.