From its origins in defence and academic systems in the 1950s through the early days of dial-up connections in the 1990s, the internet has grown to become an almost essential part of our lives. High speed broadband and fibre optic technology has brought unprecedented ease of access and a whole range of multi-media content into our homes.
But just how big is the internet? There’s no easy answer to that question, as Douglas Adams said of space: “You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” But what we can do is try to put the size of the web into perspective.
So Big It’s Tiny
Because no one organisation regulates the internet it can be difficult to get exact figures. Estimates vary, but at any one time there are thought to be some four billion computers connected to the internet. Other devices getting in on the act means the number of online devices is set to get much, much bigger.
You might also consider the number of websites as a measure of the web’s size. Again, hard data is difficult to come by but as of 2012 there were more than 644 million. But the rate of growth is fast, with more than two million new domain names added each month, and of course a domain can host one or many sites.
In order to make the size of things understandable it’s popular to compare it to something else – double-decker buses, football pitches or Wales. In those terms the internet is disappointingly tiny, if you were to take the weight of all the moving electrons that make up the net at any one time you’d have around 50 grammes, just about the equivalent of a strawberry.
If you look at the static information that makes up the internet though, estimated at about five million terabytes, and work out the weight of that in electrons and you get the equivalent of a grain of sand. So while the internet is unimaginably vast it’s also incredibly small.
Why this matters
Rather than thinking about the physical size of the internet it might be better to consider the number of people who have access to it. It’s estimated that about three billion people worldwide used the internet in 2014. That represents about 42 per cent of the total world population. However, in some countries a much higher percentage has access, and others will use the web less frequently or access it via friends or relatives so the internet’s potential reach is much greater.
Given the number of sites and the number of people using the web it can be difficult to get your site in front of the right audience. This is where effective SEO comes into play. A company like http://digi-tel.co.uk can help ensure that a site reaches the correct people.
Whether you think of the internet as billions of devices, millions of websites or the number of electrons in a strawberry, one thing is certain – it’s going to keep on getting bigger. The two strawberry internet is on the way!