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Study: Americans consume 34 gigabytes of information every day

What's your personal bandwidth? If you live in the U.S., it's approximately 34GB per day -- or, as a collective nation, 3.6 zettabytes in 2008, according to a new study.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

If you live in the United States, it's approximately 34 gigabytes per day -- or, as a collective nation, 3.6 zettabytes in 2008, according to a new study.

A report published Wednesday by the University of California, San Diego takes a census of the data consumption of American households and found that the average American consumes 100,000 words each day.

Wondering what a zettabyte is, by the way? It's one billion trillion bytes (that's 21 zeros). For uber-geeks out there, a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes. A single exabyte is 1 million gigabytes.

Your computer's entire hard drive is probably a couple hundred gigabytes. So a zettabyte is a million million gigabytes. Your brain hurt yet?

The paper, entitled "How Much Information?" outlines that Americans are serious data hounds, consuming enough text, images, audio, video, text messages, video games to total 100,000 words every 24 hours. In other words, your brain processes information from all those channels to the tune of almost an entire King James Bible every week.

But what about video? According to the study, Americans consume, on average, 11.8 hours of information a day.

That includes:

• Television: 4.91 hours per day
• Computer: 1.93 hours per day
• Radio: 2.22 hours per day
• Computer games: 0.93 hours per day
• Phone: 0.73 hours per day
• Print: 0.60 hours per day
• Recorded music: 0.45 hours per day
• Movies: 0.03 hours per day

As you can imagine, much of that consumption includes simultaneous multitasking (TV + computer; phone + TV; etc.).

More interesting takeaways:

• Print media has declined as an overall percentage, but people are actually reading more than ever, quantitatively speaking.
• From 1980 to 2008, the number of bytes we consume has increased 6 percent each year. Over 28 years, that's a 350 percent increase. (Hello, yottabytes!)
• Surprisingly, gaming saw the biggest leap in bytes consumed and time spent. That's not just Crysis we're talking about here: that also includes Bejeweled on your phone and FarmVille on Facebook.

AT&T, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, LSI, Oracle and Seagate Technology all funded the research.

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