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Ian Dunn
754901.  Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:27 pm Reply with quote

According to the December 2009 report "How Much Information?", released by the Global Information Industry Centre and the University of California San Diego, in the year 2008 the estimated total amount of information consumed in the US was 3.6 zettabytes (ZB) worth - which is equal to 1.3 trillion hours or 10,845 trillion words.

A ZB is a 1 followed by 21 zeros. If you printed 3.6ZB out as text in paperback books it would stretch in a 7ft layer across the continental United States and Alaska.

To put this in perspective, the next lowest unit, an exabyte (1 followed by 18 zeros) consists of enough information to house 200,000 British Libraries and an petabyte (1 followed by 15 zeros) consists of enough information to house just under 800 million copies of Moby Dick. To watch one hour of a hi-def video, it takes about 0.7 gigabytes (1 followed by 9 zeros).

According to the study, the average daily amount of information consumed daily is 33.8 gigabytes (GB) worth, also equal to 11.8 hours or 100,564 words. In terms of bytes, the vast majority of this is taken up by computer games (18.46GB) and TV (11.75GB). For hours and words, it is taken up by TV (4.91 hours or 45,100 words), radio (2.22 hours or 10,645 words) and computers in general (1.93 hours or 27,122 words).

The study also reports that Americans consume 6% more information per year. If the "info explosion" continues, we will probably end up talking in yottabytes (1 followed by 24 zeros).

Source: Schott's Almanac 2011

 
RLDavies
755103.  Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:53 am Reply with quote

It does lead you to think "what is information?"

These statistics apparently define "information" strictly as intentionally crafted words or images -- commercial media, in other words. There's certainly more commercial media around nowadays, and it's getting easier all the time to tap into (and harder to avoid).

But there's all sorts of other information. There's spontaneous face-to-face conversation, for a start. And all the less definable information we interpret by interacting with objects in the world. How much information does a farmer take in by looking over a field, touching the plants, picking up a handful of soil?

There's also the question of novelty of information. Hearing the same pop song 20 times in a day is surely not giving you 20 times as much information as hearing it once. The same applies to watching hours and hours of derivative TV programming.

My guess is that people have always taken in the same amount of raw information per day for as long as the human brain has been its current size and complexity. It's just that over the past few generations, intentionally designed media have become the predominant channel.

What's worrying is not how much information we take in nowadays, but how little of it comes from primary sources in the real world.

 
bobwilson
755347.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:30 am Reply with quote

I'm with RLD on this - the original post refers to "information consumed" - as if it's a commodity. Information is only useful if it's understood, interpreted and acted upon. Otherwise it's just random noise.

I don't doubt that the US "consumed" "10,845 trillion words" in 2008 - the vast majority probably being "motherfucker"; "terrorist" and "right back after this commercial break".

I agree that

Quote:
If the "info explosion" continues, we will probably end up talking in yottabytes


Or possibly Notabytes or Yawnabytes or maybe even in an explosion of creative ingenuity stutterbytes

There was a time when someone coming across something odd like this would begin by creating an interesting post which could then be both debunked and discussed - rather than just posting some spurious dry "facts" culled from a website somewhere. But ho hey. That's progress.

 
samivel
755373.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:14 am Reply with quote

Another sterling contribution to the information overload there, bob. Random noise, indeed.

 
mckeonj
755391.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:58 am Reply with quote

The Universe has been chucking information our way, in the form of radiation and particles, for as long as I can remember.
That must amount to quiteafew godzillabytes.
Anyway, I was wondering if one has an 'information footprint'?

 
Ian Dunn
755453.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:16 am Reply with quote

To RLD and bobwilson - would it be better I didn't post anything at all?

 
RLDavies
755468.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:49 am Reply with quote

I can't speak for bob, but all I was doing was continuing the discussion. Sorry if it came across as an attack.

 
Ian Dunn
755473.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:59 am Reply with quote

RLDavies wrote:
I can't speak for bob, but all I was doing was continuing the discussion. Sorry if it came across as an attack.


It's probably my fault. With my Asperger's I'm not good at recognising people's reactions.

 
samivel
755474.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:01 am Reply with quote

I think it was bob's fault.

 
RLDavies
755750.  Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:37 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
RLDavies wrote:
I can't speak for bob, but all I was doing was continuing the discussion. Sorry if it came across as an attack.

It's probably my fault. With my Asperger's I'm not good at recognising people's reactions.

...And with my Asperger's I'm not good at judging my own reactions! So we make a good team.

 
PDR
755752.  Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:45 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
I think it was bob's fault.


Everything's Bob's fault. The actions of the inhabitants Molesworth camp had a pivotal effect on the western world, so everytyhing that has happened since (including aids, jonathan ross, the wars in afganistan and iraq, george bush, the credit crunch and picy chicken flavour pot noodle) is his sole responsibility.

He claims "violence never achieves anything" ergo it must be the peace camps which are responsible for all that has been achieved since.

PDR

 
Ion Zone
755843.  Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:51 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
. Information is only useful if it's understood, interpreted and acted upon. Otherwise it's just random noise.


I wonder how you could quantify that?

 
suze
755887.  Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:17 pm Reply with quote

You kind of can, as it goes; there's a branch of mathematics called Information Theory which goes into questions of this kind.

I don't know a great deal about it, but I addressed a related question (redundancy in language) at post 531902 and the subsequent discussion.

 

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