The Weight of Data

[As ever, this is on the BBC News website too]

I have just deleted fifteen gigabytes of data from my laptop. Gone are the unwanted video clips, the duplicated photos, the filed columns and the unlistened-to music, all consigned to the great Trashcan in the sky.

Yet it weighs the same as it always did, just over 2 kilos to carry around with me from meeting to café to home every day.

And it’s still 2.75 cm thick even though it now contains significantly less debris.

When I clear out my paper files the recycling box rapidly fills up as my shelves are emptied of unwanted reports, old drafts of completed work and the rest of the detritus that accumulates around any freelance journalist.

And once I’m done the folders are thinner and lighter, offering me clear evidence of a job well done and rewarding me by the change in their physical aspect.

There are no such rewards for the assiduous hard drive cleaner, which is perhaps one of the reasons why it is so easy to live with a bulging mail inbox – it doesn’t actually bulge.

Continue reading “The Weight of Data”

Give me rice, but give me a laptop too

[Also available from the BBC News website – 10 years of shiny goodness!]

Update: there’s a discussion going on over on Dvorak’s blog.

One of the best things about being on the World Service radio programme Digital Planet each week is that I get to hear about interesting technologies from many different countries and explore the impact that computers and the internet are having in people’s daily lives.

We often follow stories as they develop, coming back to them from time to time to see if early promises have been kept or bold predictions have been borne out.

It’s been nearly three years since Nicholas Negroponte came onto the show to talk about his plan for a low-cost laptop for the developing world. He wanted to build it for under $100 and sell millions to governments who would then give them away to schoolchildren.

Continue reading “Give me rice, but give me a laptop too”