Wednesday, December 09, 2009

American Information Diet: 34 Gigabytes Per Day

Information Consumption in Words

From the new study "How Much Information? 2009: Report on American Consumers":

In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included.

We defined “information” as flows of data delivered to people and we measured the bytes, words, and hours of consumer information. Video sources (moving pictures) dominate bytes of information, with 1.3 zettabytes from television and approximately 2 zettabytes of computer games. If hours or words are used as the measurement, information sources are more widely distributed, with substantial amounts from radio, Internet browsing, and others. All of our results are estimates.

Hours of information consumption grew at 2.6 percent per year from 1980 to 2008, due to a combination of population growth and increasing hours per capita, from 7.4 to 11.8.

See related NY Times story here.


At 12/09/2009 12:50 PM, Blogger Chuck said...

In classical thermodynamics entropy is a measure of useless or lost energy. Loosely speaking entropy is lost heat (energy) into space.
This article is a good example of useless information or the generation of entropy. It is easy to assume that bandwidth converts to words that are read to gain information. This is not easy to prove in real life as there is so much mis information, wrong information, random noise or bytes of "entertainment" value. How much does an average American read per day? Does watching porn count in the study? Does reading "crap" count in the study?
Was this study paid by a government grant?

At 12/09/2009 5:57 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

It is absurd to list TV shows, music radio broadcasts, and video games as information sources. This is one of the stupidest metrics I've seen. I agree with Chuck's criticisms. Dr. Perry, why did you blog this?


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