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The Madera Tribune

The information overload

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webmaster | 03/12/13

Just what we thought might happen has happened, and it may continue to happen until somebody says “That’s enough, I won’t take it anymore.”

Facebook, in 2010, had hoarded 100 petabytes of data about those who use the social networking service, and Google, the Internet search engine, claims to have more than that about those who use it to look up information.

A petabyte is equal to about 1 quadrillion bytes. If you have an iPhone, its camera can capture about 3 million bytes, or three megabytes, of data whenever you push the shutter.

A byte of data is about eight units yeses and no’s on an electronic storage medium, such as a disk.

A megabyte is about 1 million bytes.

It used to be that 2.5 megabytes was a lot of storage on a computer floppy disk. It could hold large manuscripts, even books, or so it was said.

A petabyte, on the other hand, is so much information that it is impossible to grasp. Imagine a fairly large book, with illustrations, has been written about everyone on earth, including you and me. All that data would fit in a couple of terabytes, with room left over.

Mind you, the book about me would be frightfully dull. The same probably could be said about everybody else’s book, with just a few exceptions.

But it doesn’t have to be interesting. The holders of that data sell it, and the people who buy it pore over it to find out everything about you, so they can sell you everything from political candidates to hot sauce.

Do you use rewards cards when you shop. Guess where all the information about your purchases goes. The rewards won’t be yours, but will go to manufacturers of products you might not even dream of right now.

That isn’t necessarily bad. But wait until it overwhelms you—if it hasn’t already.

Right now, you don’t have any privacy, especially if you use a computer for any purpose other than writing yourself notes that you never send. Beware. Take care. The information overload about you is still growing, and you can’t control it.


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