Friday, January 18, 2013

Big Numbers 

If this data is right, the internet is a communications system far greater than ever known to man. The numbers are staggering: 2.2 billion e-mail users, 144 billion e-mails a day, and sadly, 68.8 percent of it was spam.  634 million web sites and 51 million added last year alone. 2.4 billion internet users worldwide.  One billion active users of Facebook.  2.7 billion likes on Facebook each day and 7 petabytes of image data!  9.66 million tweets during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  And so it goes.  Everything about the internet, web and social media is gigantic. What the numbers don't say is that within these figures are billions of overlapping relationships -- connections, near-connections and distant links --, some of which are useful to the communicator, but most of which are not.  The internet is a splintered community along tens of thousands of interests.  PR practitioners need to isolate just those groups they need.  The image is that of a librarian in the Library of Congress waving at the mammoth stacks and saying, "It's all there."  The problem is finding "it."   While search engines make internet use possible, they are not perfect, and there are huge amounts of data hidden from users.  Some day, perhaps, there will be an ultimate index that captures everything from the instant it is uploaded to the time it is deleted.  At that point, theoretically, the world's knowledge will be available to everyone everywhere, but the inability to comprehend it will be a greater barrier than ever.


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