Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogging the world

Jeneane idly wonders:

I wonder how many pixels it would take to wrap all the way around the world. Like if pixels were string, tied in a line around the center of the earth, how many would we need to go all the way around? If we put all the blogs together, could we reach?
My gut feel was “quite a lot” and “I bet we could”; but let’s run the numbers.

Wikipedia lists the equatorial circumference of the Earth as 40,075.004 km, which is about 24.9 thousand miles, which is about 1.6 billion inches. At the 72dpi typical of computer monitors this is about 114 billion pixels.

Technorati currently claims to be tracking 19 million blogs; if we take an 800x600 screen’s worth of pixels from each of them, we get about 9 trillion pixels.

So, yes. Blog pixels would wrap around the equator. Many times. And probably many more times than the calculation above suggests: most blogs have many more pages than the single screen’s worth I’ve considered.

How about a bigger goal: could we cover the surface of the earth with blog pages? Wikipedia lists the surface area of the Earth is 510,065,284.702 square km, about 197 million square miles or 791 quadrillion square inches. At 72dpi this is about 4 sextillion pixels—in more familiar terms, 4 billion trillion pixels.

This is a huge number. 4 sextillion pixels is about 8½ million billion 800x600 pages. By comparison, Yahoo! claims to be indexing around 20 billion pages. We’re not even remotely close to papering the Earth with the entire content of the web, let alone with our bloggers’ introspection alone.

Which, in a way, is rather satisfying: for all the self-important talk about the blogosphere, it’s still way smaller than the biosphere.