A map of the world’s literacy rates ought to help me plan my company’s expansion programme

A storage facility based on the notion of storing printed paper requires two things: an economy that prints lots of paper and a population that can read. Take away either, and the demand to store printed items declines.

The problem is, the moment one starts looking at literacy rates people seem to become rather agitated, arguing about the accuracy of the figures, the date of the figures, and all sorts of other things.

So let me say from the start that I can’t vouch for these figures – I just present them because I found them on the internet and they look interesting.

Now to get on with my theme, let me illustrate this notion that dubious and unchecked claims of literacy levels are interesting with a question:

Which countries claim to have 100% literacy?

And I will bet you that you don’t get them all right.


Not cheating by scrolling down the page are you?


The answer is…

North Korea
Norfolk Island

Now there are two territories here which I am surprised at not being in the 100% league (along with my feelings of doubt concerning the inclusion of North Korea!): Guernsey and Jersey. They are listed on my chart, but with no information. Given that the adult population of the States of Guernsey is just 65,000 I didn’t think it would be too hard to find out what the literacy rate is. But I was wrong.

Gibraltar, incidentally, with a population of 30,000 has a literacy level of under 80%, which I find inexplicable. Not only inexplicably low, but inexplicable that they can’t get a figure more accurate than under 80%.

But to go back at the top we have a near miss in Estonia, which records a literacy level of 99.8%
Down at the other end we have Afghanistan with a 28.1% literacy, Burkina Faso with 28.7% and Mali with 27.7%. In all these countries female literacy is way below that of male literacy.

So now I know where to avoid when the next expansion project of Admiral Storage comes up. Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Mali are all off the list. Mind you, now I come to think of it, so is North Korea, so maybe using literacy rates as a mechanism for defining the company’s expansion programme wasn’t such a good idea anyway.

One final thought, Iceland, the country I wrote about a while back as having the biggest percentage of authors in its population of any country in the world, doesn’t feature in the 100% literacy list. It actually scores 99%, along with Ireland, Italy, the Maldives and quite a few others – including the UK and the USA.

The Maldives sounds nice though. They’ve probably got enough storage in America as it is.

Admiral Document Storage is based in the West Midlands. You can find more information about us on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk.

Alternatively please do give us a call on 0800 783 9516.


The decision of the European Court over the right to be forgotten is far from absolute, and the implications are still be found

I wrote a little while ago about the European Court ruling which effectively means that if you ask Google or any other major search engine to delete links to any pages about you, they have to oblige. It is known already as the “right to be forgotten”.

When I wrote that article the whole issue was brand new. Since then we have started to see further ramifications. Someone somewhere asked Google to remove an article written by the esteemed Robert Peston of the BBC from its indexes. The BBC spotted this, and they objected. So the article is now un-deleted (if there is such a word).

Over time this process is going to make a difference to the internet – but of course that difference is only just starting. For example if there turns out to be a real desire to find information that is no longer indexed by Google etc, people will start publishing it in magazines and in book form.

Now I find that interesting because what might be presumed by some people (not readers of my emails of course but some of what I might call the “lower orders”) that the bits that are being deleted, are the exciting bits.

This will then mean that we could quite soon see adverts on Google (known as Google Ad Words) which advertise indexes to files which are still on the internet but which can’t be found on Google!

Of course for that to happen anyone interested in researching such data is going to have to retrieve the data, store it and publish it in some form other than digitally. What us old timers still like to refer to as “books and magazines”.

Suddenly there will be something in print which isn’t on the internet – the first time that has happened for maybe 10 years.

And the law won’t help stop such books and magazines emerging. For as long as we are dealing with the truth, rather than some invented allegations, then the stories can be told publicly. And it means putting them in books.

How long before the first volume of “Forgotten by Google” appears? I can’t tell you, but I suspect that just before it turns up in the bookshops, copies of the original documents, hurriedly printed from pages before those pages were forgotten by Google, will be stored in facilities such as Admiral Document Storage.

Or maybe even as I write this, programmers are writing programs that find the files forgotten by Google. Because those original files are still there – it is only the links that are gone.

I’m neutral in all of this – not sure if the Right to be Forgotten is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just fascinated at how short a time it has taken for the circle to be completed.

For years it seemed that the drive towards digitalisation and the abandonment of printing and publishing seemed inexorable. Now I think I have spotted the turning point.

If you have anything to store – be it something forgotten, a legal document, or a collection of family photographs – or indeed anything else that is legal – do get in touch by calling us on 0800 810 1125.

Alternatively you can find further information on our website.