In Utah, the National Security Agency is building a $2 billion storage facility that will house and analyze all forms of electronic communication...a potential yottabyte of everyone's (formerly) personal data. So how big is a yottabyte? CrunchGear puts it well:
There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, a thousand terabytes in a petabyte, a thousand petabytes in an exabyte, a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte, and a thousand zettabytes in a yottabyte. In other words, a yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000GB.
In terms of data on current human scales, a yottabyte is nearly infinite (though I'm sure the NSA will manage to fill the thing in like 2 weeks, and iPods will come with yottabytes in just a few months).
To be fair, the yottabyte figure is just one estimate generated by a Pentagon think tank. The facility could hold a mere hundreds of petabytes. But either way, the prospect is as unsustainable as it is frightening. This one facility will burn through as much electricity as the entirety of Salt Lake City.
All of this data comes from the book The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency by Matthew M. Aid. And while the paranoid among you may read it, I, MARK WILSON, HAVE NO REASON TO FEAR THE NSA'S INVOLVEMENT IN MY LIFE OR INFORMATION AT ALL. [NYBooks via CrunchGear]