In the bits-vs-atoms discussion, Annie Leonard has a quick [20-minute video] about the atoms side of stuff,from extraction of natural resources, production, distribution, consumption, to final disposal.
On the bits side of things, the picture is much different.
We don't really extract information,rather we capture it, and lately that process is done directly into digital formats, from digital photography, digital recording of music, and so on. A lot of medical equipmentnow take X-rays and other medical images directly into digital format. By 2011, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of all storage will be for holding medical images.
Production refers to the process of combining raw materials and making them into something useful. The sameapplies to information, there are a variety of ways to make information more presentable. In the Web 2.0 world, these are called Mashups, combiningraw information in a manner that are more usable.Fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor discusses IBM's latest contribution, SMash, in his post[Secure Mashups via SMash].
According to Tim Sanders, 90 percent of business information is distributed by email, but less than 10 percentof employees are formally trained to distribute information correctly. Here's a quick 3-minute trailerto his "Dirty Dozen" rules of how to do email properly.
[Dirty Dozen Rules Of Email Etiquette] with Tim Sanders
(3 minute video)
I have not watched the DVD that this trailer is promoting, but I certainly agree with the overall concept.
This week I also had the pleasure to hear [Art Mortell], author ofthe book The Courage to Fail: Art Mortell's Secrets to Business Success. He gave an inspirational talk about how to deal with our stressful lives. One key pointwas that stress often came from our own expectations. This is certainly true on how we consume information.Often times our expectations determine how well we read, watch or listen to information being presented.Sometimes information is factually correct, but presented in such a boring manner that it is just toodifficult to consume.
John Windsor on YouBlog takes this one step further, asking [Are you predictable?]He makes a strong case on why presenting in a predictable manner can actually hurt your chances of communication.
And finally, there is disposal. We are all a bunch of digital pack-rats. With atoms, you eventuallyrun out of closet space, with bits the problem is not as obvious, and often can be resolved by spendingyour way out of it. On average, companies are expanding their storage capacity by 57 percent every year. Thatworked well when dollar-per-GB prices of disk dropped to match, but now technology advancements are slowing down. Diskwill not be dropping in price as fast as you need, and now might be a good time to re-evaluate your"Keep everything forever" strategy.
Consider "Spring cleaning" to be an excellent excuse to evaluate the data you have on your disk systems.Should it be on disk? Will it be accessed often enough to justify that cost? Does it need immediateonline access times, or can waiting a minute or two for a tape mount from an automated library be sufficient?Does it represent business value?
I have been to customers that have discovered a lot of "orphan data" on their disk systems. This isdata that does not belong to anyone currently working at the company. Maybe the owners of the data retired,were laid off, or even fired, but nobody bothered to clean up their files after they left the company.
I've also seen a lot of "stale data" on disk, data that has not be read or written in the past 90 days.Are you spending 13-18 watts of energy to spin each disk drive just to contain data nobody ever looks at?
In some cases, orphan or stale data represents business value, and need to be kept around for businessor legal reasons. Perhaps some government regulation requires you to retain this information for someyears. In that case, rather than deleting it, move it to tape, perhaps using theIBM System Storage DR550 to protect it for the time required and handle its eventual disposal.