Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

January 30, 2013

Random Thoughts: The world has changed

By Dorothy Copus Brush
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Is it any wonder we hear often that people don’t communicate well? Could it be because words keep changing meanings? Remember when gay brought to mind the image of a happy, light-hearted soul? When you gave aid to someone in trouble?

Years ago our family was traveling and we stopped for some ice cream. My sister and I were horrified when our father ordered his with dope on top. In his early days dope was the syrup used for ice cream sundaes.

Could it be that today we have a raft of new technical terms? We google, tweet and twitter today but tomorrow it may become something else. It is hard to be cheerful about getting older when you face the changes.

Try to even imagine that Walmart handles more than a million customer transactions each hour and they have already built up data approximately 167 times greater than all the books in the Library of Congress. Facebook has 40 billion photos and YouTube users upload 48 hours of video each minute!

According to the January Boston Magazine, about 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years! In 2012 world computer users created an average of 23 billion gigabytes of data each day.

This is referred to as Big Data and Boston has created a space they call Hack/Reduce where any who want access to all this data can turn. This “hackspace” contains 1,000 computers and is free to as many as 200 hackers who sign up for using the space.

Google, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that provides internet related products and services. It was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

First incorporated as a privately held corporation just 15 years ago on September 4, 1998, it was offered to the public in August 2004. Since then Google’s profits have increased annually. Just last week it was reported that earnings pushed Google stock up.

Their mission statement was simply to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They also had an unofficial slogan, “Don’t be evil.”

Yes, the world has changed. Google’s CEO Larry Page said in a conference call with USA Today’s reporter Jon Swartz, “In today’s multiscreen world, we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit.”

One of those tremendous opportunities has come from governments around the world. The Associated Press reports that in the last 6 months of 2010 Google received 21,389 requests for information on 33,634 of its users. That was up 17 percent from the prior year.

During that time period subpoenas made up 68 percent of the requests from the U.S. government. Other legal requests included search warrants.

If all this information is mind boggling there is much more to come.

A British team is experimenting with DNA, our genetic building blocks of life. They are out to prove that DNA can be used as a physical storage tank for data.

Will wonders never cease or will all this energy end up being so much trash? Only time will tell.