Digital Universe: forecasting worldwide information growth to 2011

I was at the Oxford Institutional and National Services for Research Data Management Workshop yesterday.

One of the many facts and updates that caught my eye was a reference in Natasha Balac’s presentation to the IDC’s Expanding Digital Universe forecasts of worldwide information growth (which seem to have been inspired by earlier work on How Much Information done at Berkeley in 2000 and 2003).

A bit of further research today located the first forecast to 2010 (published in 2007) and the latest updated forecast taking this to 2011 (published this year).

There is a lot for anyone interested in information management in these forecasts: I was particularly taken by the fact that 2007 was the “crossover year” when for the first time information generated worldwide exceeded available data storage (think of all those digital camera or mobile images or experimental research and observational data). From now on it is projected we will never have enough storage space for the digital information we produce. Of course no-one should want to keep everything but from now on selection of what we keep digitally will be a necessity.

There is also some thoughtful information on your “digital shadow” – the information on you generated everyday by Web and financial transaction, CCTV, etc as well as on personal information management (stuff generated directly by individuals).

It is best to read both forecasts in sequence as the first report is the most extensive: there is even discussion of digital preservation in the first forecast to 2010. Enjoy.

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