a preference for paper cuts

I read a stunning line today-

all identity is digital identity 
at this point.

Then realized
I wanted but don't have a counter argument.

Then realized
I couldn't measure mass and volume
in digital spaces.

Then realized
I can't imagine the dimensions of my digital
footprint 

in a relative comparison.

All identity?

One that explains
why we Like until our bark expands and splits;

One that enfolds 
the outside around no story inside;

One that gives little
shadow and shade to our heat right now;

One that feeds slow uncertainty 
and brisk tourism;

One that might slow our keystrokes,

caution our hands to hold our thoughts,
for one moment longer. 

That next post,

that 'one more email',
slides along the thin lip of a flume
that has been draining into a cosmos

we have staked out,
but not mapped.

For some,
the device in their hand still feels like magic.

Swiping, pinching, scrolling, zooming
over landscapes once made 
of paper and pulp,

can feel elating.

Science seems like that sometimes.

And our effortless misunderstanding of 
how far we have reached 
without grasping a basic metric,

has to be setting off
alarm bells or
flood warnings
or Richter scales somewhere-

in an ecosystem beyond
our belief.

Hit send.
Press publish.
Tap post.

1 Byte, a letter in the alphabet;
a scribble on a page corner.

10 Bytes, a word.
1 Kilobyte, two paragraphs-
a love note in their lunches.

1 Megabyte; 2100 paragraphs of a short novel.

1 Gigabyte, 900 books you have read, 
or held, or cradled.
1 Terabyte, a reassuring athenaeum of 921600 books.

1 Petabyte, 500 billion pages of text or the digital shelves
vast enough for all printed material

ever.

20 Petabytes equals the amount of data processed 

daily

by Google.

1 Exabyte is equal to 1024 Petabytes.
5 Exabytes is a box large enough to store 
all words spoken by human beings.

1 Zettabyte approximates all internet traffic in 2016.
1 Yottabyte could be the size of the World Wide Web

if it were measurable.

Then Brontobyte.
And then Geobyte.
Neither of these units is actually used 
yet.

Makes me wonder about what trees knew. 
What conspiracy they brewed,

while they gave up their secreted stories 
in death,

drought, fire, deluge, injury, bounty;

past futures scried from rings,

all those silent lessons in scarcity 
and songs for the finite size of the world  

we missed entirely.

Selfishly, frequently,
we notice only symptoms-
climate change, soil erosion, weak crops,
more greenhouse,

less green house.

I cannot imagine the digital 
equivalent of clear cutting.

But I doubt that email has saved 
enough trees to fulfil the contract 
of our apology.

The problem
wasn't that we thought trees limitless.

It still is that we think ourselves so.

We do not stop.





_ _ _
Inspo and thoughtfuel for this piece can be found in: 
Your Digital Footprint is Bigger than You Realize 
and 
How big is 1MB, 1GB, 1TB, 1PB, 1ZB in real life?
and 
The Sound of Paper

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: