According to a 2003 UC Berkeley study, the global "we" produced five exabytes of information in 2002, this number is growing by roughly 30 per cent every year, which means the total amount of stored information almost doubles every three years.
An exabyte is: a thousand petabytes, a million terabytes, or a billion gigabytes. Or, according to the study, aproximately 500,000 times the amount of data in the Library of Congress' print collection.
Key findings from the study:
- Print, film, magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5 exabytes of new information in 2002. Ninety-two percent of the new information was stored on magnetic media, mostly in hard disks.
- We estimate that the amount of new information stored on paper, film, magnetic, and optical media has about doubled in the last three years.
- Information flows through electronic channels -- telephone, radio, TV, and the Internet -- contained almost 18 exabytes of new information in 2002, three and a half times more than is recorded in storage media. Ninety eight percent of this total is the information sent and received in telephone calls - including both voice and data on both fixed lines and wireless.
- Email generates about 400,000 terabytes of new information each year worldwide.
Read: How Much Information 2003 (UC Berkeley)
Read a recent Sydney Morning Hearald article
on the topic.