The numbers prove it: This is a data age | Science News

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The numbers prove it: This is a data age

World’s computing capacity has skyrocketed

By
2:22pm, February 10, 2011

In case you didn’t get the memo/text/call/e-mail/tweet, this just in: The world is drowning in information.

A new assessment of the world’s technological capacity from 1986 to 2007 confirms that the data deluge has long since washed over us — and presents some astounding data of its own to make the case.

Drawing on more than 1,000 sources including United Nations statistics, historical inventories and information from research firms, scientists from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Chilean researchers affiliated with the Open University of Catalonia, an online institution headquartered in Barcelona, assessed humankind’s ability to communicate, store and transmit information.

Some of the numbers, reported online February 10 in Science, make perfect sense. The fraction of data that is stored digitally, for example, has skyrocketed from about 0.8 percent in 1986 to 94 percent in 2007. (In 1986, vinyl r

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