Feeling information overload?

No wonder! A new study shows everyone is bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day.

The growth in the internet, 24-hour television and mobile phones means that we now receive five times as much information every day as we did in 1986. But that pales into insignificance compared with the growth in the amount of information we churn out through email, twitter, social networking sites and text messages. Every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago – nearly a 200-fold increase. All this information needs storing and we now each have the equivalent of 600,000 books stored in computers, microchips and even the strip on the back of your credit card. The extent of the information revolution and digital age has been calculated by Dr Martin Hilbert and his team at the University of southern California. They used a complex formula to calculate the average amount of information stored – and sent – in the world – from every medium from computers to paper and books – to letters in the post. The researchers surveyed 60 categories of analogue and digital technologies during the period from 1986 to 2007, and the results reflect our near complete transition to the digital age. Using the analogy of an 85 page newspaper, they found that in 1986 we received around 40 newspapers full of information every day but this had rocketed to 174 in 2007. In 1986 we sent out – mainly by post, telephone and fax – around two and a half pages of newspaper each day. This had increased to six newspapers thanks to email, digital photography, Twitter and social network sites by 2007. The actual switchover from analogue to digital occurred in 2002 and now 94 per cent of all data is stored in a digital form. (The Telegraph)

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About janpatricequarles

MTSU Professor of Mass Communication
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