If I choose to look at it from a historical perspective, our use of the Internet tells a lot about how we grew to depend on it. Me, I still recall those ancient days of dial up, when my monthly Internet usage was less than 4MB.
The story should be familiar: those 4MB grew to hundreds of megs, than to a gig (wow!), then to a few gigs, then many gigs... And this week I had to open my wallet $10 wider a month in order to accommodate for our rising consumption of Internet bandwidth, now in the hundreds of gigs a month.
You may well argue this story is less about me and my rising Internet consumption and more the story of the poor infrastructure available to Aussies wishing to communicate with the world, as mirrored through the stupidly excessive rates we pay down here for our mobile phones (first calls, and now data) as well as Internet access. When I hear of Americans and their taking for granted of unlimited Internet access facilities I can only sigh in despair.
That sad story aside, I have identified three main reasons for the current rise in Internet consumption:
- Our entertainment, as in music and video, is turning more and more to be Internet based. The latest development is our son's discovery of ABC's iView as well as his ability to watch gaming videos on YouTube for hours upon hours. When you consider their high definition nature, you can understand how watching them is the equivalent of leaving the tap running on full.
- Gaming means plenty of downloading. The PC games I mentioned in my previous post are all heavy downloads; Star Wars the Old Republic alone is a 20GB download just to get started.
- System updates: the need to keep all my computing infrastructure, with all its multiple environments, secure and up to date consumes a lot of bandwidth. This type of behind the scenes consumption manifests itself in all sorts of different ways: when I take a photo on my iPhone, it gets uploaded to iCloud and then automatically downloaded to both my iPad and my Mac; all this consumes bandwidth one is generally unaware of (other than the rather mysterious network slowdowns taking place while this process runs).
Image by Ben Stanfield, Creative Commons license