Thursday, May 08, 2008

New Word, New Worry 

This article introduced me to a new word (for me) -- yottabyte. Actually, it was two new words, since it uses zettabyte as well.

Let's see. There is a terabyte that is commonly used. That is a trillion bytes. A terabyte is followed by a petabyte that is a thousand terabytes, then an exabyte, which is a thousand petabytes followed by zettabytes then yottabytes, which equal 1000 to the 8th power. Got that?

What is worrisome about this? The world is storing so much information now that we are closing in on a society where the detailed lives of individuals and organizations will be on record forever. The more data there is to explore, the more past mistakes can return to haunt the present. Preserving reputation will be more than a forward-looking task but an archival one as well. "Sure, we made mistakes in the past but we did good things then too."

There haven't been many organizations to date that have had to defend their pasts as much as their present. One group does come to mind -- German companies that served the Nazis during World War II. Their past behavior continues to haunt the present.

While it is unlikely that most companies will have deep stains in their histories, it is likely with changing societal mores that records of past activity will be interpreted negatively in the present. We have seen that often enough in the matters of environmental responsibility, for example, or the treatment of women and minorities.

Is it possible that companies will need keepers of archival reputation?


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?