I am a great fan and early adopter of legal technology, but when it comes to e-discovery I often find myself longing for the good old days. The Information Age has brought about an explosion of digital information that is stored on computers, mobile devices and in the cloud. Is it any wonder that this has led to the coining of the term “infobesity” (referring to information overload)? There was a time, of course, when documents were produced by giving the other side access to file cabinets and banker boxes filled with paper. The review process was purely linear and yellow sticky notes were liberally pasted on documents that needed to be copied. In large cases, dozens of file folders containing thousands of documents were produced, but cases containing hundreds of thousands or millions of documents would have been truly exceptional.
In the electronic age in which we currently live, documents are produced on hard drives or made available for downloading from cloud services. Email and the inevitable attachments, together with digital photographs and videos, as well as the multitude of native file types stored on computers, have caused the volume of information to increase exponentially. Attorneys once thought that a megabyte of data was a lot of information, but now we commonly deal with gigabytes, terabytes and before much longer, will deal with petabytes (one quadrillion bytes) of data. To put this into perspective, it has been reported that email files typically average 100,099 pages per gigabyte, Microsoft Word files average 64,782 pages per gigabyte, text files occupy 677,963 pages per gigabyte, and image files (including PDF documents) average 15,477 pages per gigabyte. (As reported in the e-discovery blog posting by Doug Austin, “E-discovery Best Practices: The Number of Pages in Each Gigabyte Can Vary Widely”).
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