I know it’s a bit late in the game to start staring in abject wonder at how impressively small and powerful computers have become, but I have to say this 30 gigabyte hard drive in my computer is the size of half a Pop Tart, and that’s pretty damned unbelievable. I’d also like to give a big shout-out to the SmartMedia card in my digital camera, which holds 128 megabytes of info on a piece of plastic the size of a broken Dorito chip. And I mean the small chips, the kind near the bottom when you drop the bag.
I once asked a particularly ill-at-ease web guy how big the internet really was, and where it could be stored. This was 1995, and his guess was that it was about 4 tetrabytes and could be fit on hard drives contained in a large top-opening freezer (the kind your grandparents had for various hunks of meat). Since then, the internet has enlarged geometrically, but I get the feeling that no matter how big it gets, the memory chips will get smaller, and it’ll still fit into a freezer.
Now the metaphor has taken over, and every time I search the internet, I visualize myself peering from above into that big freezer, removing the slabs of tenderloin and long-picked blueberries, looking for the capital of Botswana and cousin Denny’s recipe for squirrel.