Dashboards and Data Viz

So imagine its 1990 and the average desktop computer has a hard drive worth all of 40 MB and a cost per gigabyte of around $11,000. Fast forward to Y2K and we have consumers clamoring for a few hundred megabytes, with an average cost beginning the year around $20.00 and finding itself all the way below $10.00 by the years end.  Some pretty stunning information; in a single decade we were able to reduce the cost of a gigabyte by about 1/560th, and in the following  year halve that cost again. Now imagine its still 1990, or even 1995, when the cost was only $1,100 per gigabyte and someone comes to you and says, “Hey, in just a little more than 2 decades from now, you can buy all the space you’ll ever need!  So much in fact that the average consumer won’t even be able to fill all they buy” (legally that is).  Would you have believed that?  How about, “Best of all, they’ll be practically giving it away!”  And boy do they, has anyone been to a tradeshow lately?  I have more USB drives in my desk drawer than I know what to do with.

So back to reality, it’s 2013 and the average cost per gigabyte is $0.05, a whopping 1/224000th of the cost only 23 years earlier. The most amazing part is that the rates at which these costs have fallen, have maintained themselves over the entire 23 year period.  We’ve been able to continue to pioneer such cutting edge technological advances that we’ve kept cutting storage costs at almost the same rate for more than 30 years now.

Read next: Going Paperless with Digital Technology

Ok great, entertaining story, but what’s the point you ask?  We’ll I’ll tell you.  We, and I mean mankind, have been witness to some pretty huge technology booms on this planet; a few of which have been so enormous in size that they’ve not only created, but changed and influenced our global economy and allowed us to write a future almost no one could’ve predicted was coming. Take for example the creation of the Personal Computer (PC); there certainly was a point where computers were so large, so expensive, and so difficult to operate, no one would’ve predicted that one day most homes in America would have one, let alone one in everyone’s hand.  Just the same, take the internet; what started as a few computers being able to communicate back and forth with each other bloomed into a limitless means for communication and information transaction globally.  Once idolizing the educated for their knowledge, the internet now has us idolizing farm-raised girls from Nebraska impressing doctoral scientists on primetime television with their broad knowledge of  anything science. Thank you Google (and yes that’s my shameful Big Bang Theory reference).  But back to the point, both were major booms, and both are directly responsible for changing the course of existence (not to get too sentimental about it). So what about all this data stuff?  In 2011, it was calculated that since 1986 we as humans have stored more than 295 billion gigabytes. What that really means is there’s a lot, and it’s only getting worse considering you can record a gigabyte of information for a mere Jefferson (that’d be a nickel). There’s another huge boom coming, and it’s coming in the form of a way to handle this massive tidal wave of information.  To store it, to access it, to digest it, and most importantly to make sense and learn something from it; and we want it all done easily, finished yesterday, and making our decisions for us!

It would appear technology has spoiled us, but maybe that’s just because we just keep setting the bar higher and higher and keep reaching it each time!

Jason Wolan, Professional Services Manager


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