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Let's Talk Digital Detritus: How Much Data Do I Produce?

While some experts think they can compute your digital afterlife based upon your digital footprint, others are more interested in selling your data. Some take your data to use it to push sales on you, recommending things they think you might like. In any case and no matter how we put it, data is gold. In this blog post, I'd like to figure out how much data we produce every day. Let's start with some stats:

  • In 2018, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day.

  • The amount of data in the world was estimated to be 44 zettabytes at the dawn of 2020.

  • At the beginning of 2020, the number of bytes in the digital universe was 40 times more than the number of stars in the observable universe.

  • Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon are custodians of at least 1,200 petabytes of people’s information.

  • The world spends almost $1 billion per minute on commodities on the Internet.

I have found all of the statistics mentioned above in Branka Vuletas blog post. It has many more mind-boggling statistics and numbers reaching beyond my comprehension.

The Digital Footprint

Every time we use the Internet, we create a trail of information, meaning the websites we visit, blogs we read, emails we send, and information we submit to online services. There are two types of footprints we leave behind: the passive and the active footprint. A passive digital footprint is a data trail you unintentionally leave behind. For illustration, once you visit a website, the webserver may log your IP address, identifying your internet service provider and your location. Even though your IP address may alter and does not incorporate any individual data, it is still considered a portion of your computerized impression. A more individual perspective of your passive digital footprint is your search history, which is saved by some search engines while you are logged in.

When you actively submit your information online, you are actively leaving a digital footprint. The same goes for sending emails, since you want another person to see it. Therefore, the more emails you post, the more your footprint grows. If you have registered yourself on every single possible platform on the Internet to buy whatever it is you need, well, you have an enormous digital footprint then.

Social Media and Blogging

If you have a blog like I do, you are expanding your digital footprint even more. Each tweet you post on Twitter, each status overhaul you distribute on Facebook, and each photo you share on Instagram contributes to your footprint. The more you spend time on social organizing websites, the bigger your digital footprint will be. Even "liking" a page or a Facebook post adds to your digital footprint, since Facebook stores everything (and more) on its servers. And a crazy fact on the side: The estimated amount of new data being generated by Facebook daily is four petabytes. So, all in all, how much data does this add up to every day?

Let's Talk Stats

There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace. However, with more processing power and further expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), this number will only grow. Other advancements such as 5G will speed up data transmission and further elevate the amount of data produced daily. Currently, 5.6 gigabytes is about the norm of data utilized per month around the globe. But the entry of 5G innovation has driven up smartphone data utilization drastically, and a study found that the typical 5G client in South Korea utilized 24GB a month, which is twice the amount it has been with 4G (as of June 2019). Quicker web speeds will nearly certainly cause the amount of data created day by day to skyrocket.

I agree with Branka Vuleta when looked at data. It "has little intrinsic value. Rather, what really matters is the actionable insights that can be gleaned from the information". In other words: Now that we know how to generate data all around the world massively, we have to shift focus on how to use this data strategically. I know a system or two where user information is used in a very strategical manner: recommendation systems.

I will elaborate further in my next blog post. For now, enjoy the links and resources I have used for this blog post, and as always, stay curious!

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