In December 2007, Pew Internet, as part of Internet & American Life Project completed a study to better understand how internet users perceive their online image and their online usage habits as it relates to Dirt. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, most US adults have “Googled” themselves–about 60%. Though many adults try to maintain an “active digital footprint” for image and professional purposes, such as personal web pages, social networking sites and the like, many were shocked to discover what Pew calls their “passive digital footprint.” By passive they mean Dirt that is out there that we, the user, did not intend or know was available. 21% were surprised how much information was out there on them (and that was just a Google search). 60% say they are worried about the amount of Dirt that exists in the digital world, and a full 61% want to limit said Dirt; yet only 21% are actively making attempts to reduce their digital information.
In my next post I will shed some light on how you can go about understanding the size and nature of your Dirt. And ultimately how you can attempt to manage it. In the mean time check out:
EMC2 has a tool (one of many tools out there) that helps you measure your Dirt and keeps a running tally once you answer a few question on a downloadable application (a.k.a. more Dirt). After answering a few questions about your habits (like do you drive to work or take public transportation?) it tells you how many bites of Dirt exist in the digital world, but it doesn’t tell you what the Dirt is, or where to find it, or how to get rid of it (or exploit it for that matter). Since January 1, 2009 I have about 22,0000,0000,000 bites of information. Yes, 22 billion bites of information!