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Another shift in content production

An interesting chart showing the volume of data created by different industries. Notable the relative low ranking of the Media and Entertainment Industry that used to be number one, by far, in content production. Image credit: ZDNet

I spent some time today on the Web looking for some latest info on the Data Creation Statistics, in preparation to a series of courses I will be giving on the topic of Digital Transformation and I stepped onto an interesting article by Stephanie Condon on ZDNet (published Nov. 27th, 2018). I still remember, back in 2001 and then 2003, the interest in reading the Berkeley report “How Much Information?“.  It contained some interesting, and pretty comprehensive, analyses on how much information in paper, newspaper, movies, television and digital form have been produced in the previous year worldwide (in 2002 and 2000 respectively).

It was quite fascinating looking at the result and to me even more at looking at the methodology they used to gather data and then to compare “apple and oranges” by converting everything into bits. So a page of a newspaper was weighted in terms of its equivalence if one would store it converting the ink in bits…

One of the points made was a clear trend towards a dramatic change in content production: for all human history content production was the consequence of very few people who took the time (and expense) to convert their ideas into a medium that could store them and made them available to others. In general the whole process of converting ideas into a medium and thereafter the distribution of the medium (in clay tablets > papyrus > paper > radio > television > smartphone > tablet …) was difficult and costly.  Hence, the conversion of ideas into distributable -shareable- content become the turf (or at least involved) professionals. Well, those reports pointed out that in the coming years the content production would have shifted from professionals to each one of us that collectively would have produced more content than the professionals. Indeed that happened. By 2015 lay people like you and me produced more EB of content than the professional players (the Media and Entertainment companies).

The landscape is changing once again. If you look at the graphic you’ll see that the Media and Entertainment Industry is no longer the number one for content production. Actually it is now ranked fifth, after Manufacturing, Retail, Financial Services and Infrastructures. Manufacturing has produced in 2018 over 3.5 ZB of content versus the 1.2ZB produced by the Media&Entertainment Industry, almost 3 times as much.

Another interesting element coming up is the growth of real time content, the one that is immediately consumed as soon as it is produced. This is expected to reach 30% of all content by 2025 and it is likely to create some pressure on communications infrastructures (here the 5G is welcome and will be ready) and possibly a change in culture of people that might get more and more used to real time streaming, possibly mediated by augmented reality.

This trend has already started and we are seeing a decrease in the percentage of consumer produced content (although in absolute number it keeps growing like crazy). In 2017 the consumer produced content was down to 47% and it is expected to decrease to 36% by 2025.
Quite some changes ahead!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.