The concept of linear growth is obsolete. In the closing decades of the 20th century, we got used to the rapid pace of change, but the shape of that change was still one of incremental growth. Now we’re contending with a breakneck speed of change and exponential growth almost everywhere we look, especially with the information we generate. As documented in “Richard Winter’s Top Ten” report from 2005, the very largest databases in the world are literally dwarfed by today’s databases.

The fact that the entire Library of Congress’s holdings comprised 20 terabytes of data was breathtaking. Today, some telecommunications, energy and financial companies can generate that much data in a month. Even midsized organizations are coping with data sets that will soon outgrow the Library of Congress.

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