Turns out, Madonna had it wrong: we’re living less and less in a material world. Digitisation has brought with it a minimising effect, namely, the ability to store an ever-increasing volume of data within an exponentially decreasing physical footprint.
The formula to calculate how much space is being saved through digitisation is a deceptively simple one: if digitisation didn’t exist, how much analogue media would otherwise be required to store the world’s countless digital assets? In a new infographic, BetterBuys has set out to calculate the incalculable.
Beginning with how much digital information can fit on a single sheet of paper (five kilobytes) right through to the National Security Agency’s Utah Data Centre, which is estimated to be able to store up to a yottabyte of data (its real capacity figure is classified), this infographic measures the hypothetical paper trails of some of the world’s most well-known digital entities, if their archival storage boxes were stacked end-to-end.
While such vast quantities of paper remain firmly in the realm of science fiction, an underlying point is clear: digitisation is unlocking a brave new world of possibility. As the world edges towards a ‘peak stuff’ future in the real world, will we ever tire of gathering data?