One of my oft-repeated memes for my trainees – and, not coincidentally, the reason behind the very name of this blog – is that as we move further into these uncharted digital waters, what we need more than more information is better filters for the ever-increasing torrent being directed at our frontal lobes.

So imagine my weary non-surprise at the latest mind-boggling numbers about the sheer amount of data/content/1s and 0s streaming through all these bundles of fiber we’ve laid around the world.

Way, way back in the early personal computing days, I remember having a conversation with a fellow geek. He was talking about the latest advances in floppy disk technology; and yes, these were still the old 5 1/4″ floppy disks that actually, well … flopped around when you waggled them in your hand. Not that you wanted to do that very much – the thin plastic disk inside was prone to slip around and maybe even crinkle a bit.

Anyway – we were talking about how the amount of data you could store on such a disk was about to increase from the then-standard 360K disks were almost due to an upgrade, so’s they could store 720K.


And then … some day in the near future (his eyes grew distant, focusing on such a massive, magical shift in storage technology) … “You know what comes after that?”

His voice grew hushed. Almost reverent.

“A megabyte!”

At the time, I was writing programs in BASIC to be executed in the 16K space available on our old TRS-80s. I was impressed. With a megabyte of storage … wow. The possibilities were endless.

Skip to this news. With the sheer amount of content streaming down all these here Intertubes:

In terms of pure data center traffic around the world, traffic is
projected to go from 1.1 ZBs in 2010 to an estimated 4.8 ZBs in 2015,
four times the amount. 4.8 ZBs is a hard-to-imagine number, so Cisco has
quantified it to equal 66.7 trillion hours of streaming music at 160
kbps, 15.5 trillion hours of standard-def web conferencing or 4.8
trillion hours of online streaming 720p HD video.

…the need is going to be ever-greater for The People Formerly Known As Journalists to filter that torrent. To use their human judgment to identify what is important and worth paying attention to from that which is not.

Or, as Clay Shirky, so eloquently puts it:

Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky ( It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.

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