A new report from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that the average American household consumed a staggering 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. “If a zettabyte is beyond your comprehension, too, it’s essentially one billion trillion bytes: a 1 with 21 zeros at the end. To put that into perspective, one exabyte — which equals 1/1000 of a zettabyte or 1 billion gigabytes — is roughly equivalent to the capacity of 5.1 million computer hard drives, or all the hard drives in Minnesota. So where does all this information we consume come from? Everywhere, it turns out. The report suggests the average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information in a single day. (Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is only 460,000 words long.) This doesn’t mean we read 100,000 words a day — it means that 100,000 words cross our eyes and ears in a single 24-hour period. That information comes through various channels, including the television, radio, the Web, text messages and video games.”
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