The History of Digital Content [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Angela Stringfellow - Last updated

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Most people know that the volume of digital information in the world is growing exponentially. In fact, 90% of the digital data that exists worldwide today was created within the last two years – and 2.5 quintillion bytes of digital data are created each and every day.

Today, we consume vast quantities of digital content by reading website articles, browsing digital magazines, watching videos on YouTube or other platforms, and even engaging with other people on social media. Even many of the advertisements we’re exposed to on a daily basis are digital. But how exactly did digital content become such a prominent fixture of modern life? We did some digging into digital content’s mysterious (or not-so-mysterious) past and put together this infographic to illustrate the history of digital content from its inception to modern times – and even took a glimpse into the future of digital content.

Check it out below. Want to share it? We encourage you to share it on social media, or you can add the infographic to your website using the HTML code below, crediting MerlinOne as the source.

History of Digital Content [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Full Infographic Text Transcription:

The History of Digital Content

Print magazines and compact discs, in-person surveys and paper ads―all have been pushed aside for a digital reality.

Digital Content Rules

  • 5 quintillion bytes of digital data are created every day
    • That’s 2.5 million trillion bytes
    • The storage capacity of 36 million ipads
  • 90% of digital data in the world today was created in the last two years alone
  • Global digital users 2017
    • 8 billion internet users
      • 50% of the global population
    • 4 billion active mobile internet users
      • 46% of the global population
    • 8 billion active social media users
      • 37% of global population
    • Newly digital industries
      • Video
        • Time average person spends watching online videos
          • 75 hours/week
        • Most people in the U.S. subscribe to video streaming services
          • How many video streaming services do you use?
            • None: 21%
            • One: 28%
            • Two: 27%
            • Three: 15%
            • Four: 4.5%
            • Five or more: 4.5%
          • Music
            • In 2016, 50% of the global music industry’s revenue came from digital income
            • Paid music streaming subscriptions 2016
              • 112 million users
              • 60% revenue growth
            • News
              • Print newspaper circulation 2016
                • Weekday: down 10%
                • Sunday: down 9%
              • Digital newspaper subscriptions 2016
                • New York TImes: up 47%
                • Wall Street Journal: up 23%
                • Chicago Tribune: up 76%
              • Big data
                • In 2017, 48% of Fortune 1000 companies had measurable benefits from gathering big data
                • What do businesses do with digital data?
                  • Big data initiatives started by Fortune 1000 companies
                    • Decrease expenses: 72.6%
                    • Find new ways to innovate: 64.5%
                    • Launch new products/services: 62.9%
                    • Add revenue: 54.8%
                    • Speed up current efforts: 64.5%
                    • Transform business for the future: 51.6%
                    • Establish data-driven culture: 69.4%
                  • Marketing
                    • In 2016, 70% of small and medium businesses increased digital marketing budgets
                      • Which areas will drive that growth?
                        • 59% marketing on social media
                        • 50% mobile marketing
                        • 42% email marketing
                      • Money
                        • In 2017, over 3 million people actively used digital currency
                        • Cryptocurrency market has grown by 43X in just one year
                          • January 2017: $18 billion market cap
                          • January 2018: $775 billion market cap

How did everything get so digital?

Milestones in digital content creation

  • Past
    • 1975: First digital camera released by Kodak
    • 1995: Amazon founded as one of the first successful online retail companies
    • 2007: First iPhone released
    • 2008: Netflix launched its digital video streaming service
    • 2009: Bitcoin digital currency released
    • 2012: Google Drive collaboration software launched
  • Present
    • The cloud has made creating and storing digital content easier
      • 2016: 42% of companies derived 50% or more of their business through cloud-based apps
        • Organizations invested $1.62 million in cloud computing
      • 2017: 93% of organizations use the cloud in some form
    • Future
      • The digital universe is growing 40% every year, doubling every two years
        • By 2020, there will be…
          • As many digital bits as there are stars in the universe
          • 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes of digital content

More digital content means more connections to other people and access to information―but it’s not all good news.

Potential challenges to digital content

  • No physical backups, aka “We don’t own things like we used to”
    • The digital content you purchase is not necessarily permanently yours
    • If Amazon goes out of business, that digital content vanishes, too
      • Amazon recommends you download each video you stream after purchase so you retain access no matter what
    • Environmental impacts
      • Data centers that house digital content consume…
        • 5-2% of global electricity
        • 3% of U.S. electricity
      • Data center electricity use is growing 12% annually
      • IT industry is responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions
      • Evidence that more efficient data storage and IT standards would…
        • Cut greenhouse gas emissions
        • Cut carbon emissions
      • The digital world could become realer than the physical
        • Universal use of Internet of Things and connected devices makes escaping digital impossible
        • Digital interactions expected to grow 20X over the next 10 years
          • Interactions with digital data per connected person per day
            • 2010: 85
            • 2015: 218
            • 2020: 601
            • 2025: 4,785

One day our descendants will learn about smartphones and connected devices in history class―because digital content can only grow from here.

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