A U of Berkeley study – How Much Information?– has attempted once again to estimate how much data of all kinds is generated across the world annually. It was done in 1999 and again in 2002 so we can see how things have changed. A couple of interesting facts culled from the executive summary:
- The United States produces about 40% of the world’s new stored information, including 33% of the world’s new printed information, 30% of the world’s new film titles, 40% of the world’s information stored on optical media, and about 50% of the information stored on magnetic media.
- Email generates 400,000 Terabytes of “information” each year – it would be interesting to calculate how much of this is signatures and quoted text…
- The searchable Web by contrast is only 170 Terabytes and if you count Internet-accessible databases you get a further 66-91,000 Terabytes (very rough estimate)
- North America generates lots more paper than Europe – “each of the inhabitants of North America consumes 11,916 sheets of paper (24 reams), and inhabitants of the European Union consume 7,280 sheets of paper (15 reams). At least half of this paper is used in printers and copiers to produce office documents”. So much for the paperless office!