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Visualizing Technology And The Size Of Things

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Cluster Map of TechnologyThere is no doubt that the human race is ever evolving and (hopefully) improving. Everything is becoming faster and the use of mobile electronic devices has exploded.

With the advent of the smartphone, we were given unparalleled access to information on tap. We were no longer required to be in front of a computer in order to do our daily tasks.

Almost everything can be done with a device that fits in the palm of our hand. This is nothing new, we all know this and there have been countless blogs written on the subject.

Quantifying this is a whole different story. The vastness and consumption of data becomes incredibly apparent. In short, it is simply stunning.

An Infographic (The State of Cloud Storage in 2013) by Sarah Lamb gives an incredible view of what cloud storage looks like in 2013. The numbers are truly astounding to say the least. Here it is:

Infographic - The State of Cloud Storage in 2013

1 Exabyte of data currently in cloud storage is unfathomable. So how big is an Exabyte? Well it is really, REALLY big. Some report it as being a fifth of all the words spoken by humankind. Let us quantify it a bit more clearly. If you ever needed to send 1 Exabyte of data, your fastest method would be to use a Boeing 747 filled with 4.7G DVD’s in slimline jewel cases. In fact, one Boeing would only amount to 74 terabyte of data. To get to 1 Exabyte, you will need to fill 13,513 Boeing 747′s. Park those Boeing’s end-to-end and they will span 1031km (640.25 miles).

YouTube is also not a small fish either. Apart from the Gangnam Style video (that became the first online video to reach 1 billion views in just 5 months), we watched 4 billion hours of video on YouTube every month in 2012. To quantify that….. 4 billion hours is 456,318 years of video. In 2012, we did that each month. By the way, Neanderthals are thought to have evolved 350,000 years ago. The sheer size of data we as humans consume is simply staggering, and we consume it in a very short amount of time.

I stumbled upon this excellent talk by David McCandlesson on the beauty of data visualization. Sometimes you can only understand the size of things by graphically representing them. Have a look at his talk:

But how did it evolve? The world population is currently at 7 Billion ( and Facebook users account for 1 Billion of those). Technology is driven by users (obviously) and the more the population of the earth grows, the more data we can expect to consume. This is also influenced by the fact that companies continue to endeavour  to put cheap mobile devices in the hands of lower income groups. Allowing absolutely everyone to be able to access and consume data.

I created the Infographic below that shows some of the changes in technology in only 4 short years. (The Facebook image uploads in 2012 absolutely blew me away!)

Technology in 2008 versus Technology in 2012

I guess I could write pages and pages more on this topic. In the end, I found two images that perfectly encompasses everything I tried to say in this post. See these images.

Year: 2005

In the days following Pope John Paul II’s death, visitors pack into the boulevard leading up to St. Peter’s Square as his body is carried into the crowd for public viewing. This image was taken two years before the iPhone was released.

Pope John Paul II’s body was carried into the crowd for public viewing in the days following his death

Year: 2013

This image was taken Tuesday night (12 March 2013) when Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the Vatican balcony. Having a look at the two images together, you get a sense of how the world has changed.

Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the Vatican balcony

Times  are changing, and I am excited to be part of this age in the existence of the human race. Just imagine what it will look like 100 years from now.

Carlo Dellaverson, NBC News

Royal Pingdom – Internet in numbers 2008

Royal Pingdom – Internet in numbers 2012

Dirk Strauss
Dirk is a Software Developer and Microsoft MVP from South Africa. He loves all things Technology and is slightly addicted to Twitter and Jimi Hendrix. Apart from writing code, he also enjoys writing human readable articles. "I love sharing knowledge and connecting with people from around the world. It's the diversity that makes life so beautiful." Dirk feels very strongly that pizza is simply not complete without Tabasco, that you can never have too much garlic, and that cooking the perfect steak is an art he has yet to master.

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