The Growth of Digital Life in Numbers

As I write in The Laws of Disruption, the pace with which digital life is developing and expanding is easy to measure but impossible to comprehend.  Changes in the ways in which we interact, experience entertainment and other information content, and exist as citizens of a digital realm happen so fast they outstrip our ability to stand back and observe them.

A website called Royal Pingdom has published some interesting metrics for 2009 Internet activity, which might help the quantitatively-minded to get their heads around the information revolution.

Here are a few that stood out for me:

– 90 trillion emails were sent in 2009 by 1.4 billion users.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that 81% of those emails were spam.  It’s amazing that despite all that wasted traffic, much of it stopped before it reaches a user’s mailbox, the network continues to function at higher levels of performance all the time.

– There are now 1.73 billion Internet users worldwide.  Despite the economic chaos of last year (or perhaps in part because of it), that number represents an 18% increase in the number of users.  Nearly 1 billion of those users are in Asia.

– YouTube now serves up 1 billion videos each day.  It would, I think, greatly aid the debate over copyright and “piracy” to know what percentage of those videos are legally licensed to YouTube.  My guess is that it’s a much higher number than most people would guess.

Bret Swanson at Digital Society posted more statistics showing the growth of Internet activity over the course of the entire decade.  My favorite:  Google’s index of pages in 2000 covered 1 billion website pages.  By 2008 the number was up to 1 trillion.

These are not numbers I can visualize.  Can anybody else?