Reading List: How Big is Big Data?

August 4, 2014
General Foundation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has compiled a reading list for those interested in topics related to Big Data and data-driven innovation. This list includes articles from newspapers, magazines, websites, and academic journals. Many of the more notable articles are annotated.

The reading list is divided into 13 sections. (Read the full list here.)



The section below includes items offering insight into the size of the Big Data phenomenon. To add to the list, email

How Big is Big Data?

Akamai (2014) “The State of the Internet,” Q4 2013 Report, Vol. 6 No. 4.

Bohn, R. and Short, J. (2010)  How Much Information? 2009 Report on Consumers, Global

Information Industry Center, University of California, San Diego.

This report is a follow-up and improvement on the earlier Berkeley report (Lyman et al.) and estimates the amount of information consumed by Americans in 2008. To do so, the authors measure the flows of information (IFs), which include “every flow that is delivered to a person [is counted] as information,” but not stored data. Focus is given to IFs from television, and estimates are given for hours of consumption as compared to 1980.

Short, J., Bohn, R. Baru, C. (2011) How Much Information? 2010 Report on enterprise server information, Global Information Industry Center, Univ. of California, San Diego.

Cisco (2013) “Zettabyte Era – Trends and Analysis,” White Paper May.

Gantz, J. and Reinsel, D. (2011) “Extracting Value from Chaos,” IDC Report, June.

This IDC report estimates the overall size of the “digital universe” (as exceeding the “zettabyte barrier”), offering several predictions for future growth. Attention is given to specific growth areas (individuals, enterprises) and proximate causes for the increases. The concept of the “digital shadow” is introduced and discussed, as are security and privacy concerns regarding Big Data and the digital universe.

---- (2012) The Digital Universe in 2020: Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and BiggestGrowth in the Far East, IDC Report, December.

Gantz, J. et al. (2008) “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011”  IDC Report (EMC).

This is a follow-up to IDC’s inaugural forecast of the digital universe published in March 2007. The goal of this study is to calibrate the size and growth of the digital universe, focusing on the overall size, specific growth areas, storage and enterprise data; it also makes some predictions in these areas.

Hilbert, M. (2011) “Mapping the dimensions and characteristics of the world’s technological communication capacity during the period of digitization (1986 - 2007/2010),” International Telecommunication Union working paper, presented December.

Hilbert, M., Lopez, P. (2011) “The World’s Technological capacity to Store, Communicate, and

Compute Information.” Science 1 (April), pp. 60-65.

---- (2012) “How to Measure the World’s Technological capacity to Store, Communicate, and

Compute Information?” International Journal of Communication.

International Telecommunication Union (2012) ”Measuring the Information Society.”

Lyman, P. et al. (2003) “How Much Information? 2003”, U. C. Berkeley.

This study estimates “the annual size of the stock of new information recorded in storage media and heard or seen each year in information flows” for the year 2002. (See Bohn/Short 2009 for a more recent study). The study also gives facts concerning how much information was produced by what sources (storage media, paper, World Wide Web, Telephones, etc.) and offers some qualifications about how to measure the data universe.

OECD (2011), Guide to Measuring the Information Society.

Turner, V. et al (2014) “The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing

Value of the Internet of Things,” IDC Report, (EMC) April.