My feeling of technogeek euphoria that I got last month when Google doubled the size of their index  has quickly evaporated as I perused Berkeley’s “How Much Information” study . Here’s some stats that will blow you away:
- The World Wide Web contains 167 terabytes of Web pages on its “surface” (i.e. fixed web pages); in volume this is seventeen times the size of the Library of Congress print collections. Plus another 91,850 terabytes of data in the “deep web” (from database driven websites that create web pages on demand)
- Email generates about 400,000 terabytes of new information each year worldwide.
- The amount of new information stored on paper, film, magnetic, and optical media has about doubled in the last three years.
- Print, film, magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5 exabytes of new information in 2002. Ninety-two percent of the new information was stored on magnetic media, mostly in hard disks. Five exabytes of information is equivalent in size to the information contained in 37,000 new libraries the size of the Library of Congress book collections.
What I found even more amazing (and depressing) is the degree to which we consume this data. We are a society of
information junkies. Witness this from the same report:
Published studies on media use say that the average American adult uses the telephone 16.17 hours a month, listens to radio 90 hours a month, and watches TV 131 hours a month. About 53% of the U.S. population uses the Internet, averaging 25 hours and 25 minutes a month at home, and 74 hours and 26 minutes a month at work — about 13% of the time.
I can’t imagine sitting in front of the ‘idiot box’ for 131 hours a month. What a terrible waste of one’s life. For an average person, that’s something like 7 years of your life — gone.
IF you were all of those things, then of the 720 average hours in a given month, of which you should be sleeping circa 200 (give or take a few hundred), then you’d basically be occupied by media (in some form) for over 330 hours per month – and since we spend about one-third of our lives ‘waiting for something to happen’ (bus, phone etc) and about another 20-40 hours per month in a bathroom (much higher for ted kennedy), then discount sleep, and you’ve got about 80ish hours to be a genuine, sentient human being…sad, sad world…