21.457 2008: Predictions, Hopes and Fears

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 07:29:25 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 457.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2008 07:17:17 +0000
         From: Michael Hart <hart_at_pglaf.org>
         Subject: 2008: Predictions, Hopes and Fears

Every year I write my predictions, hopes and fears, but this year
I think we can all agree that these predictions cross boundaries,
concern advances, and declines, in both the technology and social
world orders that are far beyond anything I previously predicted.

This year's predictions include "personal libraries" on "personal
computers" to rival the largest libraries in the world; USB 3.0--
which will reduce overnight data copying and backups to ONE HOUR;
and very inexpensive terabyte drives.

Prediction #1: The "Personal Computer" as "Personal Library"
Prediction #2: USB 3.0 Will Change The World of Copies/Backups
Prediction #3: USB 3.0 Terabyte Drives Will Do More Than. . . .
Prediction #4: Is "The Digital Divide" Half Empty Or Half Full?
Prediction #5: Rethinking "The Digital Divide". . .More or Less

The World's Largest Libraries, Will eLibraries Be Counted?

Prediction #1: The "Personal Computer" as "Personal Library"

In 2008, someone will create their own private "personal computer
personal library" so large as to hold enough books to enter lists
of the world's 100 largest libraries based on total books.

As many of you know, I have been doing research on these "World's
Largest Libraries" for a couple months, concentrating mostly on a
total number of books held by such libraries.

When I started this research, it was to write up some feasibility
study parameters on building electronic libraries the same size.

This was prompted by the advent of the new terabyte drives we are
seeing on the market at very inexpensive prices. [More Below]

The latest statistics I could find, officially being published in
the upcoming new edition of "Library World Records," indicate The
Library Of Congress is still the world's largest library with the
grand total of around 32.5 million books, with several other huge
libraries closer than one might think, in China and Russia.

32.5 million books.

Sounds like a lot.

Let's break that down into these new modern day terabyte drives--
these contain a trillion characters and are under $200 or e100.

A million books of a million characters = 1 trillion characters.

Each terabyte drive can hold a million books.

2.5+ million if you use any of the various compression programs,
and these are so good today, that there is really never any need
to actually uncompress the files to read them, sometimes even to
edit them. . .it's all done very transparently.

2.5 million books times 13 equals 32.5 million books.

13 terabytes to hold the entire Library Of Congress.

$3,000 bought my first 5 megabyte hard drive in 1979.

$3,000 today will buy you the average computer sold and add that

USB 3.0 Is Coming in 2008

Prediction #2: USB 3.0 Will Change The World of Copies/Backups

USB 3.0 will change how we view drives, backups, deletions and a
host of other similar topics.

Starting in 2008 backups and copies that used to take from 10 PM
to 8 AM will be so fast you can do them over your lunch break.

10 times faster.

The utility of outboard USB drives, USB flash drives, etc., will
pass a breakthrough point at which the general public will think
nothing of making backups, and we will have heard the last of an
assortment of complaints of lost data from Nobel Prize laureates
who just never got around to backing up their data.

You think I am joking? I don't want to name names, but a plenty
large sample of such took place right here in Illinois, at local
universities where I used to hang out.

The "Big Change" will be how simply and easily entire libraries,
12 gigabytes worth, at 2,500 books per gigabyte, for the ~30,000
books in the average U.S. Public Library, will change hands in a
literal minute or two with USB 3.0 being 10 times faster.

Terabyte Drives Will Become Totally Portable in 2008

Prediction #3: USB 3.0 Terabyte Drives Will Do More Than. . . .

The addition of USB 3.0 to terabyte drives means one hour copies
of entire terabyte drives.

No one thought about the portability of terabytes before, simply
because the TIME involved was too great even if the WEIGHT of an
average terabyte had fallen to briefcase proportions.

However, at ONE HOUR copying time, you can now meet someone from
another location and copy an entire terabyte during lunch hour.

Try sending a terabyte over the Internet, just for comparison.

Or even over your local network.

Your network gurus will likely be all over you.

The result is a freedom from the networks.

Worst case scenario, you SEND the terabyte drive a thousand mile
journey for the person to copy. . .or just let them keep it, and
have them send you something else back later.

There should be some opportunities for VERY inexpensive purchase
of USB 2 drives and accessories, for those who don't need speed,
but just want LOTS of terabytes.

The combination of USB 3.0 and terabyte drives will provide some
unexpected synergy and change the drive world.

Unexpected for those who do not think ahead.

You will see more and more drives carried from place to place.

Offsite backups will finally become a real reality.

As they should have been years and decades ago, and nearly were.

But that's another story.

Will "The Digital Divide" Rear It's Ugly Head? Again, Already?

Prediction #4: Is "The Digital Divide" Half Empty Or Half Full?

Given that there are well over 1 billion people on the Internet,
and given that there are now at least 3 billion with cellphones,
it appears that either side of "The Digital Divide" could claim,
as legitimately as the other, that they are the larger, smaller,
or whatever side they want to claim.

The FACT is that of all the people in the world who WANT to link
up via the Internet or cellphone, that it can no longer be said,
with any degree of truth, that most people are without access.

And it's not going to stop at 4 billion or even 5 billion, but 6
billion electronically connected people is a possibility in just
a few more years.

Given this kind of "market saturation" the only alternative from
the corporate point of view will be to finally unleash all those
"unsupported features" that have been lurking in cellphones.

"Unsupported Features???"

Oh, didn't they tell you???

There are perhaps twice as many features IN your cellphones as a
person is told are there, many of which are kept out of reach in
some kind of hardware manner, others are hidden via software.

This means that "hackers" will soon reappear on the scene to add
in the features your cellphone providers either "forgot" to tell
you about, or actually intentionally disabled to keep you out of
some other market for which they wanted to charge higher rates.

No kidding, the average cellphone out there might have dozens of
"new" features you haven't heard about, but that were there, all
the time, ever since it was manufactured.


Up to now the world cellphone market was never 50% saturated.

That meant the companies could still dream market doubling.

Now they can't.


Remember "The Dot Com Bust?"

That happened because the entire American computer industry were
unable to consider the FACT that they had saturated half of what
was their entire potential market.

They had doubled their market time after time after time, etc.

They would NEVER be able to double their market again once those
saturation levels hit 50%.

Sounds simple, eh?

We had this stuff in math class in grade school.

How many times can something double.

Right up to just ONE doubling from saturation.


And all the "Dot Com Billionaires" never figured this out. . . .

This time they will. . .at least I hope so, or else cellphone as
we know it. . .could go through the same agonizing reappraisal.

So, the essence of this prediction is twofold:

First, get used to the idea the average world citizen has access.

Second, better get used to cellphone companies giving more to the
customers, or they will lose market share to competitors.

Steve Jobs figured this out.

That's why he created the iPhone.

Steve Jobs is NOT your average "Dot Com for Dummies" kinda guy.

Prediction #5: Rethinking "The Digital Divide". . .More or Less

2008 is going to see a vast reappraisal of digital services.

For some the "agonizing reappraisal" quotation will come to mind
as they remember other times their beliefs conflicted with quite
literal actual realities.

The social engineering departments of various institutions, many
of them libraries, have been considering limiting access to what
services they can based on proof of local residency, i.e. living
in the tax base supporting the particular institution.

Given that this is a social engineering issue and not technical,
at least not in the sense of the technologies mentioned earlier,
this section will simply predict the issue, not the outcome as I
have learned that social engineering often flies in the faces of
the more technical aspects.

However, one way or another, "The Digital Divide" has changed to
being over half full, rather than over half empty.

Some people resist that kind of change.

Those people want to preserve the previous boundaries.

The political policies may be obvious; they simply won't provide
services to those they want to keep ignorant and illiterate.

2008 may be remembered as the year the conservative world made a
conscious decision to cut off services to the masses, to provide
their various services, library and others, ONLY to those proven
to be legitimate residential members of their financial base.

I don't really know what is going to happen here, but watching a
movement of this nature should be very enlightening.


Michael S. Hart
Project Gutenberg

Recommended Books:

Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury: For The Right Brain
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Ran,: For The Left Brain [or both]
Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson: To Understand The Internet
The Phantom Toobooth, by Norton Juster: Lesson of Life. . .

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Received on Wed Jan 02 2008 - 02:46:11 EST

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