We’re going to need a bigger shoebox

One of my favorite weekly diversions – the XKCD spin-off “What if” – this week answers the question “If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be?”

It’s worth reading the whole post for the trail of logic that gets him here, but the answer boils down to the following:

“15 exabytes of punch cards would be enough to cover my home region, New England, to a depth of about 4.5 kilometers. That’s three times deeper than the ice sheets that covered the region during the last advance of the glaciers.

He doesn’t get into just how many workers they would need to encode and feed all those punchcards, but maybe that’s a question for another day.

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