This is the year that we – average 99% Americans – comfortably talk “trillions.” We’re in the era of “tera.”
Remember when “million” was “mega” cool? When millionaires were really, really rich? When millions of bottle caps were uncountable? Unimaginable even? That was our society up until about the 1970s. Then, In the 1980-90s we started to hear about “billions.” China’s population reached 1 Billion. McDonalds sold 1 billion hamburgers. The earth was confirmed to be 4 billion years old. Our computers started processing in billions of bytes, i.e., GigaBytes (GB). Forbes started publishing a “Billionaire’s List” and Bill Gates was reported by Forbes to be a “billionnaire” at age 31 (wow!).
With the the Internet Bubble in the 1990s-early 2000s, we became too familiar with huge numbers in the form of Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB). America became flush with Dot.com millionaires, and “million” lost its awe. Heck, there are 1 billion App downloads each week now. There are 1,210 billionaires in the world as of March, 2011.
We are at a point in our culture where “trillion” is the the new “million.” A trillion = million x million. Computer processing speeds have leaped to Terabytes (TB) to deal with this “Big Data” era. Obama proposes cutting $1.5 trillion in tax increases. The news proclaims “there are trillions of earths in our universe.” We now read in print “t” where “m” or “b” once sufficed (e.g, outstanding US public debt as of today is $15.2t).
Note: a technology and information/data guru friend and blogger, Michael Elling, pointed out to me that in the tech world “trillion” is old news. Big Data and and The Network (e.g., CISCO) is “well beyond ‘trill’ and even ‘penta.’ The current vernacular in tech culture is ‘exabyte.'” Acknowledged. But, I maintain that average joe citizens like me are not there yet.
But given that “trillion” is bandied around like “million,” do you comprehend just how big a TRILLION is? When we talk “Big Data” in Terabytes, we’re talking really, really, really big. When we talk about a $1 trillion bailout, we’re talking a whole lot of money. Unfathomably large sums of money: see the graphic illustrations on the left which show what $1m, $1b and $1t looks like relatively. A trillion is a trillion-times larger.
Twenty-twelve is “t” time: a time where we talk trillions at the dinner table. You don’t need to be “trilliant” to get BIG, big numbers and “Big Data.” But, it’s good to be “trill”….an adjective used in hip-hop culture to describe someone who is considered to be well respected, coming from a combination of the words “true” and “real.”
So, here’s a toast to keepin’ it “trill” in 2012. It looks like it will be a “trilling” year! This is a nod to my blog last year about “squealing” culture manifesting in oscillating points of view, shifting polarities, fluttering marketing dynamics, extreme bursts of activity (e.g. Occupy Wall Street’s fast rise and fall).