While recently sorting through another type of storage — a storage unit — I came across my old SyQuest disk. I bought it for a desktop publishing class in the mid-90s, and I used it to save flyers and other print material I designed. The disk is a removable hard disk that measures more than five square inches — huge by today’s standards. Despite its size, however, it holds a mere 44MG, or megabytes. It was the largest storage unit I had at the time and it felt like technological marvel.
A SyQuest removable hard disk.
- 1,000K = 1MB
- 1,000MB = 1GB
- 1,000GB = 1TB
- My 1GB flash drive is about 23 times(x) the size of my 44MB SyQuest disk
- My 500GB external hard drive is 11,500 x the SyQuest
- My 2TB external hard drive is 46,000 x the SyQuest!
What does this enormous increase mean in the larger social context? I wasn’t sure, so I asked another friend. Her blunt assessment: we’re a culture that likes to accumulate “stuff” and all this space encourages us to acquire more “stuff.” She mentioned, as an example, she’s saved every paper she ever wrote in college. She admitted she doesn’t need to hold onto the documents, and she hasn’t read any since she was in school.
And then there’s my music collection. I’ve downloaded hundreds of songs over the years. I’ll hear a song playing in a store while I’m shopping or on the radio while I’m driving, and I’ll acquire the track soon after. More often than not, I’ll listen to it once or twice before losing interest. I'll keep the track, however, in the off chance I might need it.
So, why do we keep all this digital material? What compels us to hold onto so much, as my friend calls it, “stuff?” The answer is simple: because we can. The technology is available and we gladly use it.
On a final note, I'm reminded of an old Doritos commercial. The tagline went: “Go ahead and crunch. We’ll make more.” Well, the slogan could be amended by Brand X to advertise their digital depository devices: “Go ahead and store. We’ll add more.” (It rhymes!)