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Study Shows We Consume 34GB of Data Daily

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 35 comments

Some of us spend more time online than others (guilty), but according to a recent study, the average American consumes roughly 34 gigabytes of data and information each day.

A recent study by the Global Information Industry of the University of California at San Diego looked at the year 2008 and tried to quantify how much information the average American consumes across all forms of media: TV, newspaper, internet and radio.

According to the report, Americans consumed information for 1.3 trillion hours last year, 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.

The group defined "information" as flows of data delivered to people and measured the bytes, words, and hours of consumer information.

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. More surprising is that information consumption in bytes increased at only 5.4 percent per year. Yet the capacity to process data has been driven by Moore's Law, rising at least 30 percent per year. One reason for the slow growth in bytes is that color TV changed little over that period. High-definition TV is increasing the number of bytes in TV programs, but slowly.

Check out the full study here.

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  • 26 Hide
    Onus , December 10, 2009 6:25 PM
    Utterly irrelevant. I just looked out my office window for a minute. Let's assume my eyes (taken together) have an equivalent 10Mp resolution, and operate at an equivalent of 30FPS. Using 24bit pixels (3 bytes), in that minute I processed 54GB of data. That doesn't count the chatter my one good ear was picking up, temperature and pressure data on my skin, etc. etc.
    There's no story here. Next...
  • 19 Hide
    duckmanx88 , December 10, 2009 6:48 PM
    so much porn...delicious, delicious porn
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    jellico , December 10, 2009 6:09 PM
    Comcast and AT&T are reading that and probably having heart palpitations. Still, 34GB is a hell of a lot of data. Does that include television watching and listening to the MP3 player, I wonder?
  • 8 Hide
    JMcEntegart , December 10, 2009 6:20 PM
    jellicoComcast and AT&T are reading that and probably having heart palpitations. Still, 34GB is a hell of a lot of data. Does that include television watching and listening to the MP3 player, I wonder?


    Yeah, television, radio, etc.
  • 26 Hide
    Onus , December 10, 2009 6:25 PM
    Utterly irrelevant. I just looked out my office window for a minute. Let's assume my eyes (taken together) have an equivalent 10Mp resolution, and operate at an equivalent of 30FPS. Using 24bit pixels (3 bytes), in that minute I processed 54GB of data. That doesn't count the chatter my one good ear was picking up, temperature and pressure data on my skin, etc. etc.
    There's no story here. Next...
  • 1 Hide
    Socnom , December 10, 2009 6:27 PM
    useless study. How would one quantify how much information our eyes see? Our eyes can see in resolutions far beyond anything an electronic device can simulate. How would you measure the sheer clarity that we can see into bytes of images you can measure?
  • 5 Hide
    spectrewind , December 10, 2009 6:30 PM
    Socnomuseless study. How would one quantify how much information our eyes see? Our eyes can see in resolutions far beyond anything an electronic device can simulate. How would you measure the sheer clarity that we can see into bytes of images you can measure?


    Even if this study was valid...
    Is this compressed or uncompressed? ;o)
    That weould be a big difference.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 10, 2009 6:33 PM
    Jacked in BORG v1.0 :lol: 
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , December 10, 2009 6:36 PM
    yay to consumerism, soon we gonna have to be concerned about the Laws of Conservation of Information
  • 19 Hide
    duckmanx88 , December 10, 2009 6:48 PM
    so much porn...delicious, delicious porn
  • 0 Hide
    hotsacoman , December 10, 2009 6:55 PM
    "Consumed information" is a pointless measure anyway. What's important is how much of that information is important and how much of that important information is retained.
  • 0 Hide
    maximus20895 , December 10, 2009 6:58 PM
    this is pretty much a useless experiment..
  • 0 Hide
    FoShizzleDizzle , December 10, 2009 7:08 PM
    jtt283Utterly irrelevant. I just looked out my office window for a minute. Let's assume my eyes (taken together) have an equivalent 10Mp resolution, and operate at an equivalent of 30FPS. Using 24bit pixels (3 bytes), in that minute I processed 54GB of data. That doesn't count the chatter my one good ear was picking up, temperature and pressure data on my skin, etc. etc.There's no story here. Next...

    Actually your comment is what is irrelevant. The article is about how much data is consumed through forms of MEDIA on average. Not how much data is processed through your actual day to day life through your eyes and ears.
  • 4 Hide
    joex444 , December 10, 2009 7:31 PM
    FoShizzleDizzleActually your comment is what is irrelevant. The article is about how much data is consumed through forms of MEDIA on average. Not how much data is processed through your actual day to day life through your eyes and ears.


    Not quite, FoShizzleDizzle, not quite.

    Something is not right with the study. You have 100k words per day. Sound like a lot, a veritable shit ton in fact. But to store these words on a computer as a TXT file would be about 600k, and thats on the high side (you can see how many 3 letters word I use here, can't you?).

    Now, take the 100k words and store it as a spoken 64kbps MP3 mono file. Considerably bigger, as it takes about 500 minutes to actually say all those words at 200wpm. This is of course 30kS, which is a 245MB file. And thats low quality mono MP3 @ 44.1kHz. Now, try storing it as an uncompressed WAV file -- likely what the study did as our ears are the ultimate in audio anyways (proof: if one can make an audio file more precise than our ears it is a waste of information). Now this becomes 5.4GB. Our little old 600k TXT file = 5.4GB WAV file.

    Now, take our 500 minute spoken interaction and add words to it. Presumably, this would be the equivelant of receiving your 100,000 words via BluRay movies all day. For shits and giggles, lets compress the audio again but do so with, say, DTS @ 1.5Mbps (yes, BD uses a higher bitrate). Roughly speaking, you can get away with 1080p at 10Mbps (BD will be higher; but this should represent most HD cable stations). Now with these parameters we're at 44.2GB.

    Its fundamentally meaningless to weight different forms of data equally.

    100,000 words:

    600k as TXT
    245MB as MP3
    5.4GB as WAV
    44.2GB as 1080p/DTS.

    Yet the same information is there -- the 100,000 words. (One may argue, of course, the video stream attached has some information, but this still illustrates the point that information is not to be measured in bits.)

    Now, your reaction is to be expected. It will likely be of the form "The study measured data, not information." Quite true. However, as you can plainly see the amount of data does not indicate whatsoever the quantity of information contained. One may use 5GB when merely 600kB sufficies. Given this, I don't understand how you can defend the study as having any purpose. The idea that we consume 34GB per day may very well be a good approximation of the actual facts, but what does it mean? It certainly does NOT indicate how much information we use. The Internet likely comprises the lowest percent of that 34GB, yet it is by far the most useful day-to-day tool. Let me see the TV answer your questions; the TV is a simple device that is one-way communication (it is a "dumb" device.)
  • 2 Hide
    christop , December 10, 2009 7:46 PM
    She looks like she is in pain upgrade your grey matter hun...
  • 0 Hide
    Jerky_san , December 10, 2009 8:39 PM
    Hmm you'd think the amount of data transfered between your brain and sensory nerves would blow way past a simple 34 gigs. Just to walk your brain has to have massive amounts of communication. Not to mention your eyes and how they "auto focus" or your muscles being told what to do. Simple typing would require "on off" type situations. Just image since your hand is moving in a 3d plane the amount of "calculations" your brain is really doing and communicating back and forth..
  • 0 Hide
    blasterth , December 10, 2009 8:40 PM
    34 GB seems a lot, but is only about 20 min of NTSC resolution TV (720 x 480 x 3bytes x 30fps x 1200 seconds). I think all other medias together will not even reach 10% of those 34GB. That is why the data consumed has not increased more with the time, because the TV is old but is still the media with more traffic by far.
  • -1 Hide
    redgarl , December 10, 2009 9:24 PM
    Ok... converting words to bytes for getting an estimate that mean nothing...?

    I could do a stupid research like this too.

    By the way, this study make you think that a media like a news papers actually making a different paper for every american... same for a news broadcast.

    This is rubbish and mean absolutely nothing. If you want to know how much data you are using, just check your internet bill.
  • 0 Hide
    LORD_ORION , December 10, 2009 9:31 PM
    So.... if we don't consider pR0n, how much is it really?
  • -3 Hide
    loomis86 , December 10, 2009 10:12 PM
    This study is not stupid. but people leaving comments here are. This study is measuring the amount of man made data (transmitted electronically) consumed. birdwatching doesn't count, retards. And btw, "consumed" doesn't mean a human brain absorbed it 100% and understands it. By the comments here it is obvious that simple text is beyond the capacity of many that are consuming it.
  • 0 Hide
    tacoslave , December 10, 2009 10:30 PM
    LORD_ORIONSo.... if we don't consider pR0n, how much is it really?


    OVER 9000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , December 10, 2009 11:02 PM
    That would blow my bandwidth cap in 1.5 days.
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