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Mountain of e-mail, but paper survives

New York, Oct. 29 (Reuters): All those e-mails — junk or otherwise — are adding up.

In 2002, people globally created enough new information to fill 500,000 US Libraries of Congress, according to a study by faculty and students at the University of California at Berkeley.

The 5 billion gigabytes of new data works out to about 800 megabytes per person — the equivalent of a stack of books 30 feet high — the study by the university’s School of Information Management and Systems found. That’s a 30 per cent increase in stored information from 1999, the last time the global study was conducted.

The information area with the biggest percentage increase in data was, unsurprisingly, hard disk drives. The study found the amount of stored information on these increasingly high-capacity storage media rose by up to 114 per cent from the previous study in 1999.

The study also put to rest any lingering myths about the paperless office. The amount of information stored on paper, including books, journals and office documents, increased up to 43 per cent in 2002 compared with 1999. “We thought in our (last) study that film and paper would head toward digital formats,” UC Berkeley Professor Peter Lyman said.

With paper, that has not been the case, as people access documents on their computer, but then print them out, he said. But photography is fulfiling his initial expectations.

“Individual photographs are moving quickly to digital cameras, or even image-producing telephones,” Lyman said.

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