UCSD, MIT and UC Berkeley to quantify information growth rate

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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reanimate the ‘How much information’ (HMI) project, which aims to quantify the amounts and kinds of information being produced worldwide by businesses and consumers. Last published in 2003, HMI data could shed some light at how much information is currently created and how quickly information creation is evolving over previous years. The co-principal investigators of the program are Roger Bohn and James Short of UC San Diego.

The last HMI reported that print, film, magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5 EB (exabytes) of new information in 2002. 92% of the new information was stored on magnetic media, mostly on hard disks. Five exabytes was compared to 37,000 new libraries the size of the Library of Congress book collections (which contains 17 million books).

Information flows through electronic channels - telephone, radio, TV, and the Internet - contained almost 18 exabytes of new information in 2002: Telephone calls worldwide contained 17.3 EB of new information. Most radio and TV broadcast content was not considered new information, but about 70 million hours (3500 TB) of the 320 million hours of radio broadcasting were estimated to have been original programming. The Internet was estimated at about 170 TB on its surface, instant messaging at 274 TB and emails at about 400 TB.