Saturday, 20 October, 2001

We can store data, but where's the information?

Have you seen memory prices lately?  The local Fry's was advertising RAM at $50 for 512 Megabytes.  I drove down there today to take advantage of that deal.  I figured that for about $75 I could replace the two 128 MB sticks in my system with with three 256 MB sticks to give me my system's maximum of 768 MB.  It almost worked, but the 512 MB for $50 is for OEM RAM, which is of slightly (to be kind) lower quality.  I opted for doubling my memory capacity by purchasing a single 256 MB stick for $42.

That's just amazing to me.  I remember being ecstatic in the early 90's when RAM prices dropped to $30 per megabyte.  And just four years ago I paid several hundred dollars for a 32 MB upgrade.  Today I paid about 16 cents per megabyte for RAM.  Figure $170 per gigabyte.  I paid more than that (maybe twice that?) for 16 KB 20 years ago.

Available RAM, drive space, and processing power have now far outstripped the average computer user's ability to actually use them.  Even power users will have a hard time stressing a 2 GHz machine loaded down with 1 GB of RAM and a 100 GB hard drive.  With cable modems and DSL giving close to 10 mbps download speed, our ability to obtain, store, and process information is well beyond our ability to actually make use of it.  What we need is some innovative applications that will search the Internet for information that we want, cull through all the crap and then actually do something useful with what remains.

I feel a major rant coming on.  I'll get back after I've pondered this one a bit.