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I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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04 April 2014

Am I mad, old, stupid or simply out of data?

How many exabytes has the Mona Lisa?
I came across the paragraph quoted below in a serious business magazine the other day and began to wonder if I will ever feel at peace in a world which publishes this sort of stuff.
     This is not so much a language point as a cultural one, though perhaps the two are interrelated. However, English-speakers are more vulnerable since this type of linguistic emptiness is being invented in English, and is steering the minds of English language-speaker in its own direction, irrespective of the culture they originally come from.
     Over time, the influence of language on people is almost as much as that of people on language. The evolution and interaction of thought and language has always been a question of give and take, steal and repossess. But still I shiver with a sort of cosmic cultural loneliness when I read stuff like this. Is there anyone there, I wonder? Or did a computer write it?
In 2007, 300 exabytes (one billion gigabytes) of data of stored data were estimated to exist of which 7% was analog (paper, books, photographic prints, and so on.) Digital data expands quickly, doubling a little more than every three years. By 2013 it is estimated that the amount of stored data in the world was around 1200 exabytes, of which less than 2 percent is non-digital. The speed and volume of Big Data have prompted some analysts to use readily available data to make real-time “nowcasts” ranging from purchases of autos to flu epidemics to employment/unemployment trends in order to improve the quality of policy and business decisions. The Billion Prices Project (BPP), launched at MIT collects more than half a million prices on goods and generates reports that are more accurate and timelier than official statistics. Big Data is also being used by businesses in budget forecasting, reducing costs and improving profitability.
     After reading this, I thought I would start a new course for my students in the business world entitled: “How to say nothing without leaving the page blank”. Anyone want to sign up right now? A discount for early booking? The first class essay will be on the topic: “How many exabytes has the Mona Lisa?”

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