The New World of Information

Robert Harris
Version Date: August 26, 2000

The Information Model Then and Now


If we go back about twenty years, we can see some of the differences in how information functioned then, in contrast with the way it functions now, thus giving us some clarity about how information works today. Here are some of the features of that early information era:


Today, information technologies such as computers, fax machines, the Internet, wireless phones and pagers have changed the information landscape. Information can be created and shared by more people faster than ever before. Here are some features of the information environment today:

The Educational Model Then and Now

The information revolution is also changing the way education occurs. Here are some features of the previous model:


Now A Note on the Quantum of Information

Estimates of the quantum of information and its growth vary widely and become quickly outdated, but they are so much fun to impress people with that they are difficult to resist. Here are some, probably already outdated, but thought to be close to a rough estimate as of August, 2000. More than 90 percent of the information in existence has been created since you were born, over half of all information within the last three years. There are more than 190,000 journals published, including medical ones, which publish more than 380,000 medical articles a year (more than a thousand a day). Two hundred new books are published each day (70,000 a year). The World Wide Web has more than 2.2 billion pages, with 3 million added each day. The visible Web contains about 20 terabytes (the equivalent of about 60 million books of 250 pages each). The invisible Web (databases connected to the Web but not accessible to search engines) is estimated at about 7,500 terabytes, or the equivalent of 22 billion books of 250 pages each.

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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com