Web 3.0 – On the exponential growth of information


Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

This video nicely deals with the issue of information overload and explains how we obviously increase the information management problem with every bit of new information. Wherever you look at, information is growing exponentially. Centuries ago we very well considered which motives to photograph – today we can constantly produce 4.5 images per second because storage space and the speed of data processing in a digital camera do not matter. But does it make the path to a good photo easier? Or do we just save time shooting and then spend more time scanning the 300 pics we took in just 10 minutes?

The video offers various thoughts about how we can possibly deal with the masses of information in the future and which direction the web will possibly go. The semantic web is just one of the concepts offered and it is also examined in this video. However, just like some experts in the 80s never believed in the mainstream success of a computer, we today have no imagination of what the web as we know it will develop into.

Take MySpace, Facebook and all the other social networking platforms. They improve the ability of millions of people to communicate with each other in just seconds. All this may be convenient, but what we all too often ignore is the enormous amounts of information/date that is produced behind the scenes. Just think of a simple change in your facebook privacy settings and how this affect the relationship (in terms of data) between your profile and those, say, 350 friends you may have.

Today the amount of servers Google is using is unbelievable! This reminds of the statement that popped up some time during the Gulf War: Future wars will be fought with information. While during the Cold War when Game Theory evolved, strategists where playing with the perfect answer issue today’s warfare strategist may possibly consider something totally different: spamming the opponent with information that he or his systems are then unable to process and thus paralyzing him like a venomous spider does with its prey.

From today’s point of view, I see no end to the tendency of exponential information growth. The question will be if we continue to be able to somehow grow our information processing tools at the same rate. Or if some day we will just not be able to keep up with the pace of information growth and simply surrender.

I know that was a little bit of Doomsday talk, but just consider! Now back to Facebook! 🙂

The Human Brain – A Supercomputer

The following graphic is based on data collected by the University of California, San Diego, in which they analyzed the timespan from 1980 through 2008 for the total number of bytes bitten processed by Americans. According to the study, the amount of date has increased by 6% per year and now amounts to an the huge number of 3.6 zettabytes. That is one billion trillion bytes and more than we can imagine. It includes all kind of information or data, no matter from what source.
In terms of the internet, this clearly mirrors the fact that websites contain more and more megabytes of content which if not accessed via DSL can take very long to load. As the speed of our internet connection and the number of ways to access the web (WiFi alarm clock, domestic laptop to check the news at breakfast, mobile device on the subway, desktop pc at work, mobile device during lunch break, laptop back home,..) increases, our brain has more and more data to process. Or maybe not. If you are smart, you filter information for what is really relevant at the moment. But still, this is more than information overloa, rather information collapse. And it raises the question how even with smart filtering, we are able to deal with these billion trillion bytes EVERY DAY!


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