we've added 20% more photo servers and 50% more upload servers to process this year's Halloween traffic. We've also packed in 40 terabytes of additional storage (that's 40,000,000,000,000 bytes). By comparison, the words of all 20 million books in the Library of Congress could be digitized in about 20 terabytes of text. So we're making room for the equivalent of two Libraries of Congress.
The popularity of Facebook's photo application, home of more than 10 billion photos, has compelled us to think big for a while.
Click or Treat: Halloween Photo Bonanza - Facebook blog - October 31, 2008
Wow, that's a lot of photos of drunk college students...
It's also an order of magnitude increase from last year. In an infrastructure posting from 2007, they said
* 1.7 billion user photos
* 2.2 billion friends tagged in user photos
* 160 terabytes of photo storage used with an extra 60 terabytes available
* 60+ million photos added each week which take up 5 terabytes of disk space
* 3+ billion photo images served to users every day
* 100,000+ images served per second during our peak traffic windows
Facebook Photos Infrastructure - Facebook blog - May 21, 2007
I discovered the Facebook has a Statistics page in its press area
* More than 120 million active users
* More than 10 billion photos uploaded to the site
* More than 30 million photos uploaded daily
Let's see 30x30 = almost a billion photos a month, so yeah, the math works out.
Flickr, photo-sharing darling (which always has had a buzz disproportionate to its actual number of users and photos, due its "look, folksonomy stuff" usefulness for the technorati), Flickr reports its 3 billionth photo.
Take the pinky of either your left or right hand, hold it next to the corner of your mouth and say “3 beelleeeeon photos…”
3 Billion! - Flickr blog - November 3, 2008
I don't think any of us quite know what it means to have photos at the giga-scale, using storage in the tera- and peta-scale. (It's quite possible evolution has not equipped us to think at such scales, although it appears the Maya were quite comfortable thinking about time at the mega- and even giga-year scales.)
UPDATE: As libraries, we also need to think about what this means in terms of our position as information managers. Pre-digital, the central library in your town or city probably did contain the largest (or nearly the largest) collection and concentration of information available to you. My organisation has millions of items (articles mostly) that it can make available to thousands of patrons. But compare that to billions of items and tens or hundreds of millions of patrons. Or compare that to home users who may have terabytes of storage and tens of thousands of photos. Can libraries still claim to be the centre of knowledge management expertise when they are tiny players in the digital environment?