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June 24, 2012

[2b2k] How much info per minute, per an infographic

There’s a fun infographic — and aren’t all infographics fun, one way or another? — at Visual News about how much information is made every minute.

It’s poorly sourced (a list of sources at the bottom without references to which data came from which sources, and no links, but, heck infographics are fun!), but let’s assume/pretend that it’s accurate. Beyond the pure massiveness of the amount of data, a couple of “facts” leap out (and these are especially unreliable since they probably come from different sources so the comparisons are likely to be apples to orangutans, but it’s all about putting the “fun” into infungraphics!):

  • There are three times as many tweets as Facebook Likes, even though one is just a no-thought reaction (and the other requires pressing the Like button — heyo! I kid Twitter ’cause I love it. I’ll be @dweinberger all week.)

  • There are 80x more posts on Tumblr than on WordPress

  • There are 2,000x more emails sent than Tweets posted, and 100x more emails sent than search queries received by Google. This seems plausible if I look at my own usage, but I’m old and thus more attached to email than are today’s Digital Youngsters with their IMs and their hiphop ringtones and 4Gs. Nope, email remains the volume leader in terms of number of units (as opposed to the number of bytes, which I cannot figure out).

Info fun! With air quotes around each of those two words!

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April 1, 2011

[2b2k] How much information

The latest issue of Science (April 1, DOI: 10.1126/science.1200970) has an article (protected by copyright from your prying eyes) by Martin Hilbert and Priscilla Lopez about the increase in information from 1986-2007. Or, to be more exact, here’s the abstract:

We estimated the world’s technological capacity to store, communicate, and compute information, tracking 60 analog and digital technologies during the period from 1986 to 2007. In 2007, humankind was able to store 2.9 × 1020 optimally compressed bytes, communicate almost 2 × 1021 bytes, and carry out 6.4 × 1018 instructions per second on general-purpose computers. General-purpose computing capacity grew at an annual rate of 58%. The world’s capacity for bidirectional telecommunication grew at 28% per year, closely followed by the increase in globally stored information (23%). Humankind’s capacity for unidirectional information diffusion through broadcasting channels has experienced comparatively modest annual growth (6%). Telecommunication has been dominated by digital technologies since 1990 (99.9% in digital format in 2007), and the majority of our technological memory has been in digital format since the early 2000s (94% digital in 2007).

To take care of the redundancy of stored information, they normalized around the optimal compression rates of 2007.

I found the following interesting:

Although there are only 8% more broadcast devices in the world than telecommunication equipment (6.66 billion versus 6.15 billion in 2007), the average broadcasting device communicates 27 times more information per day than the average telecommunications gadget. This result might be unexpected, especially considering the omnipresence of the Internet, but can be understood when considering that an average Internet subscription effectively uses its full bandwidth for only around 9 min per day (during an average 1 hour and 36 min daily session).

The rest of the time we’re merely paying for full broadband access…while the access providers call a “bandwidth hog” anyone who actually uses the broadband she’s paying for. But that’s not the article’s point. (Hat tip to Andy Weinberger for the link.)

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January 13, 2011

If we had called it the Age of Patterns instead of the Age of Information

Claude Shannon, a father of Information Science, had to call the differences that move through telephone wires something. He picked “information,” a term that had meant, roughly, something that you hadnt known, or the content of written tables. Had he called it “data,” or “patterns,” or “differences,” or “Arthur,” we would have skipped right past one of the false continuities: from information to knowledge. We would have had the Age of Patterns, characterized by an abundance of patterns of difference, and we wouldn’t have thought that that has anything much at all to do with knowledge. But, because traditional information had something to do with expanding what we know, we tricked ourselves into thinking that our modern technology is about making us smarter. With an abundance of information, it seems we must be gaining more knowledge. With an abundance of patterns, or differences, or of arthurs, it would not have seemed so.

The new age is one of connection. This is less misleading, for it has us looking for its effect on how we connect with one another, how we connect our ideas, and how we connect our connections. And these are, I believe, the right places to be looking.

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