World consumption of information is 9.57 zettabytes (10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes) per year - such amount of data 27 million servers process each year worldwide. According to the University of California scientists who carried out the study, if all the data could be transferred to the printed version and printed on paper, it would have been a tall stack of books about 8 billion miles long. In their calculation, researchers have agreed that the average book is about 4.8 cm thick and the average amount of data placed on it is 2.5 megabytes. This huge pile would reach from Earth to the eighth planet of the solar system - Neptune, and back - and so 20 times a year.
According to forecasts of engineers, the load on the servers is going to double approximately every two years. So, in 2024, a virtual stack of books would reach the size of 4.37 light-years away and could reach the nearest star in the Milky Way - Alpha Centauri.
However, the most information is transitional: it is created, used and removed in seconds and never re-used. This is an underwater base of a huge iceberg.
But how much information from this volume is consumed by an average user? According to Californian scientists, all U.S. households consumed about 3.6 zettabyte information in 2008. So, the average American consumes daily about 34 gigabytes of data and 100 000 words a day. This means that an average of 100 000 words a day pass through our eyes and ears. The report authors say that they took all the credit available in the U.S. form of communication. Information comes through different channels: the Internet, television, newspapers, radio, friends and colleagues, e-mail and other sources.
And people demand more and more entertainment content. Researchers estimate that the average American spends 11.8 hours a day watching TV, playing console, socializing with friends and surfing idle in the Internet.
In general, the researchers concluded that consumption of information is growing continuously since 1980, about 6% per year. However, in recent years there has been an explosive growth in consumption, the consumption of information has increased by 450% only the last 28 years.
Unfortunately, I could not find data for years 2010 and 2011. However, considering that the ways to get information are growing more and more every day, and existing sources are gradually improving, we can confidently say that "consumption" of bytes by people will continue to grow significantly in the near future.