That’s 800,000 petabytes, where each petabyte is a million gigabytes. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about exabytes (1000 petabytes).
By the end of this year, we’ll be sitting on 1.2 Zb.
It is a lot of data.
But as previously reported, almost all the data stored around the world is junk. Experts say as much as 90 percent of stored data is useless.
We’re not talking about trash tv or bad music. We’re talking about data that is of no use to anyone; useless files, duplicate data, temporary files that became permanent.
Forget everything you hear from businesses selling virtualisation as a green technology. If the so-called green computer makers wanted to use less electricity and save the planet, they would work on tools to de-duplicate files and data and applications to help us cull rubbish from our hard drives.
This would also make it easier to find the good stuff.
Print publishers paid freelance writers by the word. They needed to fill space around lucrative ads and draw readers in with entertaining, informative copy. Before online publishing there was a market for bulk, readable copy.
Freelance writers responded to market forces. They learned to write long. Some padded their prose with waffle. Most didn’t feel pressure to write tight copy. A longer sentence bought a cup of coffee; a couple of extra paragraphs could fund a night in the pub.
Online publishing follows a different economic model. Web readers don’t hang around. As usability expert Jakob Nielsen says: “If you want many readers, focus on short and scannable content.” (Although please don’t think of a journalist’s words as ‘content’).
Online publishers want snappy copy over and over to maximise page reads and advertising clicks.
Which means freelance writers have to unlearn bad habits and get back to writing tight copy. For us older journalists this means going back to our roots.
Those of us who learnt our trade in the 1970s grew up in a world where newspapers and magazines didn’t have acres of space to fill. And well-staffed newsrooms meant every available column inch was fought over.
When training journalists, I joke that Americans use more commas than British journalists because they are rich and can afford the extra ink. The same applies to Irish, Australian or New Zealand journalists.
You often find long, comma-packed sentences in American newspapers. They don’t make for easy reading.
Use plenty of full stops instead — periods if you’re American — and spare the comma.
Writers often underrate the comma’s use as an aid to sense.
Some Americans put commas between all clauses and sub-clauses. Grammar checking software tells you to do the same. Ignore the nagging. Even when these tools are not using American rules, they often dance to American usage.
British-trained writers avoid them between short clauses at the start of sentences.
Americans also use commas before and at the end of a list of items. This is sometimes called the Oxford comma. That subject opens a fresh can of worms.
In Britain the last comma only gets used when one of the sequence items includes an and.
Some experts say Americans are moving towards British patterns and commas are now less common on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s hope so.