When the first CD-ROMs appeared on the market, people had a hard time grasping exactly how much information they could store. Each disc could hold about 650 MB of data. This was more than 450 times the capacity of the previous removable technology, the floppy disk. So techies used to say that CDs could store 150 Bibles’ worth of information, or two complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Today, the CD has been replaced by DVDs and flash drives, which can hold even larger amounts of data. A typical laptop today might have a hard drive with a capacity of 160 GB or more. I’ve got an external storage device for my photos and music collection that can hold 1 TB of data. That’s a lot of information. It’s about as much as my school library when I was a child.
Unlike my old school library, though, these storage devices have no librarian. We’re on our own. It’s up to each of us to figure out how to organize our digital information.
We don’t think about this most of the time. It’s not obvious in the way that a messy desk or cluttered bookshelf is. So we often give less thought to how we arrange things on our computers than we do when arranging physical objects in our homes and offices.
Yet much or our work and play now involves information stored on our computers, and in quantities that stagger the imagination.
Most of us don’t have the benefit of a librarian’s training. But we are all librarians now.