I have become the pig

A hundred megabytes, who cares.

Jon Peddie

I remember when 256K wasn’t just enough, it was a dream.

I remember when Western Digital ran an ad campaign—be a pig, get a gig.

I remember when we mostly operated in text (with controversies about 7 or 8 bit), and everything was saved in Zip.

I still save in Zip, but the compression ratio isn’t very impressive due to all the bitmaps, but old habits die slowly, if at all.

I just downloaded a file from an IEEE article that has maybe three paragraphs of information pertinent to my current research, and I saved it to a folder. The file was 156MB, and I paused, less than a second, and thought, why not, I had 496GBof free space on my C drive and 10 times that on my D and E drives—I have become the pig.

That file will live forever. I will forget to delete it. I will have made several copies of the extraction I took from it. My publishers will copy the story, article, book I used it in and store it on their piggy disks in clouds and local servers, and it will, unlike transient humans, live for as long as there is power to the drive, NVMe, DNA cell, or whatever storage medium is in use because— DATA NEVER DIES.

But does the thought, the discovery, the diatribe, the acquisition, accolade, or applause?

Perhaps not. Was it as nourishing and astounding as a Shakespearean sonnet or a Nobel dissertation? Most probably not. With the world’s population increasing at about 1% per year (despite malnutrition, war, disease, and natural disasters) and crossing 8 billion in 2024, saying or doing something significant is pretty competitive even in esoteric circles.

And yet, whatever you did, assuming you committed it to some type of electronic record, will live on in a time machine, subject only to care, tending, and power—and even power isn’t needed until you decide to look for it.

Imagine space travelers, going half the speed of light, waking from a 100-year hibernation and approaching a planetary system of a red dwarf star that telescopes and AI programs in our solar system predicted would have salient life equivalent to our own by the time they got there. With a few years of conscious time to prepare for first content saying, Hey, what shall it be tonight, Peddie’s treatise of the missed opportunities of using organic material for V1 cache, or I Love Lucy—show of hands.

Regardless of what they choose, they will have the choice. They will have the choice of every digitized word of every human from the beginning of writing. Such pigs.