"So where are you physically, and where's my research? You said you were going to have it for me by now."
"My flesh is at the archives and so is your research, for now," she said, rubbing her eyes. "When I gave you that estimate, I was planning to get everything through the net and send it straight into memory, bypassing my conspicuous mind to save time. But it turns out that most of the material on the Holocaust was never uploaded. Some of it's on paper and the rest is on something called microfilm. So even though I could update the information at around ten megabaud, that doesn't do me any good, because my eye muscles can only move about a hundredth that fast. Then I had the bright idea of looking through a videophone camera, only to find that the hardware wouldn't go over a refresh rate of sixty frames per second, and I couldn't even turn the pages that fast. And this microfilm thing is insane -- it takes longer to thread the damned spools than it does to read them. So the bottom line is, working straight through, I can have it for you by noon tomorrow...."
"How much data do you have so far?"
"Nearly everything for the Calinshchina. I've got about three-quarters of what's out there on the Terror-Famine, and maybe half on the Holocaust. Add it all up, and the minimum descriptive algorithm is about a megaturing."
"How many bytes is that?"
"Well," she said, "you really can't express moist memory in bytes, because it's not a string of ones and zeros and there's no single way to convert it into one. See, if I converted it all back to the forms I found it in, it would be one number of bytes, but if I just recorded the connections of each neurode in the network it's stored in, it would be a completely different number. It's like those bone-head British cameras on Science News who give you the weight of a space probe. The probe would have one weight on Earth and another on the moon, and besides, those are just potentials -- it doesn't actually weigh anything, as long as it's out there between the stars. Space probes have mass, moist memories have minimum descriptive algorithms. Measuring in bytes wouldn't tell you anything."
I nodded. "So," I said, "how many bytes is that?"
Keishi sighed. "About a trillion."
-- Raphael Carter, The Fortunate Fall (pp. 42-43)