Listen to this
Give those eyes a rest.
Quote of the Week.
soufflé appears larger than its actual contents.
Our information stores are the other way around.
But there's much commonality.
DO Bend, Fold,
Spindle, And Mutilate.
used to be a no-no, now isn't.
There's MUCH More
I Can Do For You!
out how I can help your business to prosper during
exponential technological growth!
Bigger, faster, & cheaper -- ever more-so!
still-reigning king of display technology is
challenged -- sort of.
Pictures of the
survival tool for the digital age?
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Back to Table of Contents
Check out the newly-coined
words, not to mention the words' depiction of a
potential "new competitive order":
"Need a neurocompetitive advantage? Pop a "neuroceutical!"
Pundit Zack Lynch reckons we’re on the cusp of a
major technosocial transformation. He predicts the
convergence of Bits, Atoms, Neurons and Genes are
accelerating us towards a neurosociety, where
we’ll bust beyond the biological constraints of our
evolutionary brain. It’s a brave new world of
neuromarketing, neuroweapons and neuroethics.
But who will have access to what’s on offer, and
will your thoughts remain your own?"
Brain Waves: Neurons, Bits, & Genes.
Corante Tech News
A "Big BANG" of a much smaller
order. But this one may be in our not-too-distant
future, rather than in our ancient past...
Back to Table of Contents
This is an article I've recently written for
Future Brief (http://www.futurebrief.com/).
Future Brief is a new site from New Global
that offers brief summaries and other resources to
help people, especially those on The Hill who form
national policy, to keep up on technological
innovations -- but with an added twist. Future
Brief "takes one step back and looks at the
greater convergence of the accelerating changes in
science and technology, with the equally rapidly
accelerating changes in society and politics."
When I was a kid the largest
amount of information in a home might have been that
"One volume FREE with each purchase over $25"
grocery store encyclopedia set. True, there were
many other books and papers scattered around, plus
the family picture shoebox and perhaps some 8mm (or
16mm) home movies, but that was the extent of data
storage. Since each book contains an average 0.75
megabytes of text, and estimating an average of 100
books per home, each home of that day might have
been storing 75-100 megabytes of data, all of it in
analog (paper or film or snapshot) form.
And none of it was easy to copy
-- if you didn't have (or couldn't locate) a
negative, pictures could only be duplicated by
taking a photo of the (typically degraded) picture
and processing that. Original sheets of paper could
only be duplicated during their creation by
using "carbon paper!" And that was pretty much it,
as there were no Xerox machines. Duplicate a 45 RPM
record? Ha! The first home tape recorders were
still several years away.
Well, things have changed just
a bit -- LOTS of bits, actually. Oh, we
still have many of those 0.75 megabyte paper books;
probably far more than way-back-when. And we still
have file cabinets full of papers. But no matter
how fast those physical information collections
grow, they are now but leaves blowing in a global
information wind compared to the amount of
information that we now keep in digital form.
How MUCH Information?
Doing a quick inventory of all
my hard disk drives, I'm mildly surprised to realize
that I can store more than one terabyte of data
ready for instant access! (One terabyte of storage
is the paper-equivalent of 50,000 trees worth of
paper - or over four billion sheets of paper!) That
amazing amount of storage just snuck-up on me
through piecemeal acquisitions - I wasn't trying to
amass as much storage as only the largest
corporations could afford just a very few years
I also have hundreds of CDs at
0.7 gigabytes each, and dozens of DVDs at between
4.7 to 17 gigabytes apiece. And then there are
blank CDs and DVDs, just waiting for me to write
upon. Plus, there's the inexhaustible fire hose of
information from the Web which itself contains about
170 terabytes of surface information and 92
petabytes (that's PETAbytes, as in mega..., giga...,
tera..., peta..., exa...!) of "deep information"
contained within Web-accessible databases, etc.
Just the surface Web contains 17-times the amount of
book content in the Library of Congress, and it's
all just a keystroke or mouse click away.
In short -- and this is only an
offhand estimate -- each household today may well
contain more information than entire COUNTRIES held
a hundred years ago! And we haven't begun to talk
about the amount of data that business and
governments now hold... And we haven't yet covered
the breadth of information flows and live media, as
outlined in a study I'll cite in a moment:
"Newly created information is STORED in four
physical media – print, film, magnetic and optical –
and it's SEEN OR HEARD in four information flows
through electronic channels – telephone, radio and
TV, and the Internet."
Then there's the additional
tsunami of information captured from tens of
thousands of private surveillance cameras, radar and
sonar networks, and far more...
The Data Explosion.
We're producing more -- LOTS
more information -- each and every year.
Based on a fascinating study
titled "How Much Information, 2003?" which is
performed annually by the Berkeley School of
Information Management and Systems
projects/how-much-info-2003//) that was
brought to my attention by reader Tony Harper, an
Oct. 28 article in The Register
summarizes it this way:
"Information production has increased by 30 percent
each year between 1999 and 2002. Last year alone,
the amount of data stored on paper, film, optical
and magnetic media reached five exabytes - or 5
All of a sudden, almost every aspect of life around
the world is being recorded and stored in some
information format... That's a real change in our
Looking at this in a bit more
detail in the Executive Summary of the study itself
"How big is five exabytes? If digitized, the
nineteen million books and other print collections
in the Library of Congress would contain about ten
terabytes of information; five exabytes of
information is equivalent in size to the information
contained in half a million new libraries, [each]
the size of the Library of Congress print
Ninety-two percent of new information is stored on
magnetic media, primarily hard disks. Film
represents 7% of the total, paper 0.01%, and optical
estimate that the amount of new information
stored on paper, film, magnetic, and optical media
has about doubled in the last three years...
Paperless society? The amount of information
printed on paper is still increasing, but the
vast majority of original information on paper is
produced by individuals in office documents and
mail, not in formally published titles such as
books, newspapers and journals.
Information flows through electronic
channels -- [including] telephone, radio, TV, and
the Internet -- contained almost 18 exabytes of new
information in 2002, three and a half times more
than is recorded in storage media.
Ninety eight percent of this total is the
information sent and received in telephone calls -
including both voice and data on both fixed lines
and wireless. [Those phone calls
contained] 17.3 exabytes of new information if
stored in digital form; this represents 98% of the
total of all information transmitted in electronic
information flows, most of it person to person.
Most radio and TV broadcast content is not
new information. [Only] about 70 million hours
(3,500 terabytes [or 3.5 petabytes]) of the 320
million hours of radio broadcasting is original
programming. [Television] worldwide produces
[another] 31 million hours of original programming
(70,000 terabytes [or 70 petabytes]) out of 123
million total hours of broadcasting...
Email generates about 400,000 terabytes
[or 400 petabytes] of new information each year
How we use information: Published studies
on media use say that the average American adult
uses the telephone 16.17 hours a month, listens to
radio 90 hours a month, and watches TV 131 hours a
month – on average about a third of the time. About
53% of the U.S. population uses the Internet,
averaging 25 hours and 25 minutes a month at home,
and 74 hours and 26 minutes a month at work – about
13% of the time. In theory this adds up to accessing
information media 46% of the time, but in practice
most people only access two or three information
flows on a regular basis."
The Point? And The
What's the point of this
article, which itself is adding to the global volume
of information by exploring the study's findings?
It's to help each of us recognize that one of the
Grand Challenges we have in front of us, and hence
one of the Great Opportunitie$, is to learn how to
effectively deal with, and learn from, our
incredible and constantly-growing information
All of the techniques that we
use today to glean some insights from our
information pools, such as data mining, Web
searches, and the like, are like pawing through a
few grains of sand on a global beach. For example,
do a Google search for "recipes" and you get 12
million hits from just the surface Web. Many sites,
such as epicurious.com, contain thousands of
additional recipes each, which don't show up in such
a search (part of the "deep Web"). Search on a
controversial topic, such as "politics," and 41
million hits are instantly ready for your perusal.
That's just too much to deal
with using today's tools. There are gems of
information out there that could make your day (and
perhaps your fortune) if only you could glean the
gestalt, the "big picture," of the information that
exists AS IT RELATES TO YOUR SPECIFIC INTERESTS.
Let's explore a simple,
home-oriented example (but which has numerous
offshoots into the worlds of business and government
and military and...) -- suppose you had company
coming over for dinner and you wanted to prepare a
particular dish, say a soufflé. You type
into Google and you get 36,000
hits from just the surface Web. These are useful,
of course, although finding what might be the MOST
useful recipes and tips, for you, is unlikely.
But suppose that your knowledge
management system had kept track of your attempts to
make soufflés in the past, watching as you prepared
them and noting problems you may have had with
certain types of recipes. (If you do find yourself
in this situation, remember that a flat soufflé can
magically become a "pudding" for the unsuspecting
guests - just don't discuss the menu in advance!).
Along with keeping track of
your culinary difficulties, your knowledge
management system might also have been using its
voice recognition and video systems to determine how
your guests liked (or disliked) each soufflé you've
attempted, and it is now applying all of its
knowledge to more effectively winnow-down the
recipes contained in those 36,000 hits. It might
(delicately) suggest that you watch a video tutorial
it found on the Web; it might, knowing your tastes,
offer a recipe for a new type of soufflé you might
enjoy trying; or perhaps in extreme cases it might
diplomatically point you to a source for gourmet
frozen soufflés that could be delivered tomorrow
prior to your dinner party!
This is a simple example, of
course, but it demonstrates the immense changes
ahead once we eventually teach our computers to
better UNDERSTAND the world around them.
But this isn't a "switch" that will be thrown; long
before computers become "aware" enough to sift
information at this extreme, we'll continue to come
up with increasingly better ways to make use of the
information at-hand. And each new significant step
towards more "information aware" computers will
confer incredible advantages to those who make good
use of them, similar to how some businesses profited
from quickly adopting new technologies such as
telephones, and even today's computers and software,
before their competitors.
You could become a better
cook. Or a business might be able to better glean
what its customers "really" want, and find better
ways of satisfying those needs by constantly tying
together disparate facts from information flows and
sources that are far too voluminous for human input
and analysis. Or a military commander might make
better decisions based upon enhanced knowledge of
what's happening around her. Or a government might
become better at managing its economy through
picking up faint trends long before they become
apparent to today's information analysis techniques.
The Bottom Line.
The bottom line is all about
increasing the quality of our knowledge in the face
of what may be exponentially growing information.
We're increasingly living in an
information-saturated and driven world, and our
current tools for turning information into knowledge
are pretty crude. But that suggests some dramatic
opportunities for those who, incrementally, better
tame the information tiger.
Learn to cook (or consume) this
"information soufflé" better, and lots of satisfied
"diners" will beat a path to your table.
Back to Table of Contents
If you're old enough to
remember when the "payment stub" sent with a bill
was a punched card that you returned with your
payment, then you're sure to remember that fateful
warning of what you should not do to the punched
card (since they machine-read the card when you
But now that the punched card
is all but extinct, and as technology moves forward,
Philips is demonstrating prototype thin, flexible
displays that (to an extent) CAN be folded or
spindled (although I'd be careful of the 'mutilate'
As shown at
here for a large version.)
this display seems to offer
much better resolution than prototypes of the past.
Details on how this works are at the spin-off
company "PolymerVision's" Website at
http://polymervision.nl/ under the
"Technology" heading. In essence, this technology
causes pixels on the plastic to emit light when
"active," rather than having LCD "shutters" block
light when a pixel is "off," so no power-hungry
backlight is required. The film can also be used as
a light source by turning every pixel on!
once use my notebook for this purpose - years ago I
was in a Paris hotel room, reading before going to
sleep, when the power went out. But I was at the
"good part" of the book! What to do? "Ah" - saved
displayed a blank white page on my multi-thousand
dollar notebook and used the light to finish the
book. At that place and time and circumstance, it
was a great use of technology! I mean, computers
are highly flexible information devices, but
The bottom line, of course, is
that as this and other new flexible display
technologies mature, today's expectations of where
we expect "displays" to be, and where we don't, are
going to change radically. With apologies to the
famous quote, "All the world's a display"
will likely come to pass, where the idea of static
pages and pictures may (eventually) be just a
curiosity. (Come to think of it, didn't J. K.
Rowling foretell this on the walls of Hogwarts?)
No wizardry here though, other
than the wizards who keep pushing technology. And I
can't wait to see their "final projects" in each
year to come!
Back to Table of Contents
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Back to Table of Contents
Since we were just talking
about punched cards, the first most commonly used
mass storage that, if I remember correctly, stored
80 columns of EBCDIC characters (or 120 bytes) of data each
it's worth looking at the cost of storage today.
But first a little trip down
memory lane: In 1984 I purchased the first
commercially available hard disk drive for my
Macintosh -- it had a capacity of 20 MEGAbytes, and
cost $1,200. That's $60 per MEGAbyte.
Now, 20 years later, the latest
prices I see at TigerDirect.com (with whom I have no
affiliation other than as an occasional customer)
include an offer of a 200,000 MEGAbyte (200 GIGAbyte)
disk drive for $99.99 after rebate! That's --
$0.0005, or 5 one-hundredths of a penny -- per MEGAbyte (compared to $60 per
That's a 120,000-times price
reduction in 20 years. Impressive!
And if that's not capacity
enough for you, consider that you can get a 300,000
MEGAbyte (300 GIGAbyte) drive for $279.99 (although
in this case you're paying more -- $0.0009, or 9
hundredths of a penny -per MEGAbyte -- for this serious capacity).
That means that for $840, you
can pack your PC with 3 disk drives that give you
just under one-TERAbyte of storage.
Just The Beginning.
And of course this is just a
very crude beginning, since we're still working with
mechanically spinning media. Just wait until the
various solid state -- even atomic and molecular
state -- techniques make it out of the lab and into
I stand by my earlier
prediction that in just a few years, we won't see
even budget PCs without at least a few TERAbytes of
storage (just as today, they come with 20 or more
GIGAbytes of storage...)
Imagine the applications.
Back to Table of Contents
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi,
you're my only hope."
Well, it's not exactly R2D2
that lives, and although this picture from the March
13 Mike's List (http://www.mikeslist.com/80.htm)
LOOKS like R2D2's holographic projection of Princess
Leia, it's not. (So much for 'Truth In
Headlines!') But it DOES result in a display
similar to R2D2's "holographic projection," even
though in this case it's all done with mirrors.
Specifically, according to
Hitachi research which developed this prototype
(from the March 13 Mike's List and EETimes -
"...The Transport 3-D display system, built by the
Hitachi Human Interaction Laboratory, is essentially
a cylinder with a projector at the bottom and a
mirror at the top, facing it. In between, 24 mirrors
are arranged along the cylinder's circumference and
a rotating screen sits at its center.
After a proprietary camera captures moving or still
images of an object from 24 directions, the
projector projects them to the opposing top mirror.
Images are then reflected at a certain angle to each
of the 24 mirrors set along the cylinder's
circumference. Those mirrors in turn reflect their
views of the image onto the screen, which rotates 30
times a second.
screen shows each of the 24 reflected images one by
one as it turns to squarely face the associated
mirrors. Since the rotating screen is double-sided,
viewers see images at 1/60 second from a particular
angle, Hitachi said. The result, to the viewer's
eye, is a 3-D image..."
It only APPEARS to be a
free-space 3D image. Nevertheless, as the quality
improves I can imagine a myriad of uses for such a
device, ranging from medical and architectural
imagine to, yes, "games" (which actually have been
the driver of most of the graphic pizzazz we now
take for granted.)
So -- R2D2 does indeed still
"live" as the undisputed 1977 champion of "display
technologies we'd like to have." It's a good thing
that we have Science Fiction to whet our appetites
and define some goals!
Back to Table of Contents
Finally, who'd have guessed
that this is the "one thing" that has been missing
from the venerable Swiss Army Knife:
It's true - a USB flash memory
"disk drive," according to the March 10 The Register
with this 64 megabyte version weighing in at $68,
and with higher capacity versions (up to 128
megabytes) to be priced later.
A 'new survival tool' for the
Speaking of USB, I'm amazed at
just how 'survivable' the genre of solid state USB
pocket 'disk drives' are, as told by reader Ronald
"Today an amazing thing happened, I purchased a 128
MB Thumbdrive a few months back and forgot I had it
in my pocket. Well my pants were washed and dried
with my Thumbdrive in them. Twelve minutes immersed
in the wash and 90 minutes in the drier tumbling
about in humid heat.
my surprise and delight it actually still works and
there was no data loss. To think that in the
mid-eighties when the $1000 5 MB Winchester hard
disk drives came out, all you had to do was bump the
desk the computer was on, and the drive was toast. I
know this Thumbdrive is not the same mechanism as
the old spinning drives, but it sure is refreshing
to see that our data is safer on a transport device.
It is amazing how rugged solid state devices are
compared to their counterparts!"
Of course the ability to carry
relatively large amounts of data around is not
limited to your pocket. Cashncarrion offers a $147,
USB 2.0 wristwatch with 256 megabytes of memory
built in, and with the USB cable integrated into the
Speaking of "data," one beauty
of digital data is that it can accommodate almost
any form of information, including voice and
pictures. So why limit your wrist to simply storing
a quarter-gigabyte of files? India's "Reliance
is looking to change this with the release of their
Telson TWC1150 "Watch Phone."
Although it looks cumbersome to
me, this $529 CDMA2000 1x "phone" includes a 330,000
pixel plug-in digital camera, speakerphone, voice
recording and recognition, and a "finger ring"
earpiece that communicates with the phone via
infrared (don't wear long sleeves!) It even boasts
"photo caller ID" so that the caller's picture pops
up on the display when the phone rings. Allegedly,
the phone's battery will power it for 150 hours of
standby time, or 100 minutes of talk time. Overall,
its specs. are impressive, indeed.
The phone will initially be
available in several cities in India, as well as
through Reliance Mobile's Web site
(Speaking of sophisticated "wrist watches," they may
soon be able to store far more data than your PC
could just 2-3 years ago -- Toshiba plans to be
producing a 0.85-inch -- that's less than one-inch
in diameter -- disk drive that holds 4 gigabytes(!)
-- by the end of 2004!
Your data -- just don't leave
home without it...
Back to Table of Contents
"The Harrow Technology Report" explores the innovations and
trends of many contemporary and emerging technologies, and then draws some less
than obvious connections between them, to help us each survive and prosper in
the Knowledge Age.
"The Harrow Technology Report" is brought to you by Jeffrey
R. Harrow, Principal of The Harrow Group.
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Copyright (c) 2001-2005, Jeffrey R. Harrow. All
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