Magazine article Information Management

The Myth of the Paperless Office

Magazine article Information Management

The Myth of the Paperless Office

Article excerpt

The statistics are music to the ears of data-storage companies but a little scary for those who have to manage, organize, and retrieve information:

In 2002, humans stored about 5 exabytes of new information on paper, film, optical, or magnetic media--a number that doubled in the past three year's. One exabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion gigabytes (most PCs today come with 40- to 100-gigabyte hard drives). Five exabytes, according to the New York Times, are equal to the sum of every word ever spoken by humans since the dawn of time.

That is a 30 percent increase in stored information since 1999, the last time the global study "How Much Information?" was conducted by the University of California at Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems. The information area with the biggest percentage increase in data was, unsurprisingly, hard disk drives. The study found the amount of stored information on these increasingly high-capacity storage media increased by up to 114 percent from 1999.

According to the study, magnetic storage is by far the preferred medium for storing information and is the fastest growing, with shipped hard drive capacity doubling each year. It is also rapidly becoming the universal medium for information storage, perhaps because the cost of magnetic storage is dropping rapidly. As of fall 2000, a gigabyte of storage cost less than $10, and experts predict that this price will drop to $1 by 2005.

The study also deflated dreams of a paperless office. To wit, the amount of information stored on paper, including books, journals, and office documents, increased to 43 percent in 2002 compared to 1999.

Some of the survey's other interesting findings include:

* The world produces between 1 and 2 exabytes of unique information annually--roughly 250 megabytes for every man, woman, and child on earth.

* Printed documents of all kinds comprise only .003 percent of the total.

* Soon it will be technologically possible for an average person to access virtually all recorded information.

* Original documents created by office workers comprise more than 80 percent of all paper documents.

* Digital information production is the largest and most rapidly growing. Optical and digital magnetic storage shipments are doubling each year. …

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