How many words are there in cyberspace?
A dear friend said, back in the ancient history of 10 years ago, that with the Internet, “There is no longer any excuse for an unanswered question.”
I quote her often, as it struck me with the weight of wisdom. Not to mention the sheer enormity of what it means to have that many words, nevermind ideas, online.
Naturally, I just now Googled the obvious question: “How many words are there on the Internet?”
In nanoseocnds, I was served 244,000,000 results.
How often do we even notice that tiny number in the upper left corner? And how many of us scroll past the first page of results, which is typically just 10 of many possible answers. Like many folks, if I don’t see what I want on the first page, I re-enter my question in slightly different wording. Rarely do I scroll to page two. The impatience is shocking, actually.
But don’t worry, several wonderfully applicable answers from reputable sources presented themselves on page 1 today.
LiveScience.com estimated in March 2016 that we would soon reach a billion websites. OK, that’s impressive, but not specific enough.
The DailyMail.co.uk in the UK threw up its hands back in 2012, noting that “there is no language to decrier that amount of data” referring to how much is stored online.
LanguageMonitor.com calculated this June that a NEW word is created very 98 minutes, and that January 1st, 2016 there were 1,035,887.3 in existence. I want to know what the 0.3 word was.
Quora.com my favorite Q & A website, full of insatiably curious questioners and equality insatiable answerers, finally got the m after at hand. Alas, in one of its shortest answers on record, and there was only one posted, someone write “Everyday millions of words are added and other millions are removed.” Really?
Reddit.com was more willing to make an estimate this mat January. Beginning with a (seemingly high) estimate of pages online, they arrived at a “very ballpark” guess of 100 trillion words. I;d like to see that many fit in a ballpark, myself.
I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it’s clearly bigger than gargantuan. They pondered poet Kenneth Golsmith’s efforts to figure this all out, and he eventually concluded, “We need new metrics for infinity.”
WaPo writes: “If you printed the Internet, it would be…305,500,000,000 pages… the same length as roughly 212 million copies of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”
However, the winner for sheer statistical effort is clear. Nine years in the making, I give you:
This site gets right to the charts, with what appears to be a daily update of estimated pages online, (3.89 billion as of today, June 29th) with honorable mention to the Dutch pages at 174.28 million. Cheers for The Netherlands! By the way, the site’s author is no idle slouch, having been at this for 9 years, and using the data collected as part of a Master’s thesis. Kudos! I’m bookmarking this site!
Why am I telling you this?
Well, if you’re in business these days, or blogging for any reason, you probably have some neglected blog post or article lurking somewhere that’s way behind schedule. It comes with the territory.
After all, there are 3 billion people online these days, and many of us are creating “content” to post.
Or we’re way behind in doing so, and looking for some else’s fresh content to inspire us.
A short pause, for my Official Launch Status Report:
Today was full of video scriptwriting, teleprompter software acclimation, shooting raw footage for 2 videos, and editing. All to prep for the first time I will host a video in my new membership portal, for tomorrow’s 100 Day Deal post.
So I’m thinking a lot about language, while immersed in online content.
I’m flagging after a day online, so a quick salad and glass of lemonade was the perfect antidote on a hot summer’s evening.
But uh oh, now t’s time to write my weekly “Diary off a Launch” post.
How will I get started? As a writer, I’ve learned that writing is never the problem, it’s getting started that’s the challenge, yes? Life’s distractions are masterful at keep us from the pen, or in my case, the keyboard.
A bit challenged yourself? Too many thoughts sloshing around in your head, unformed and mixed with the desire to contract a mythical case of “writer’s block” … so you can get away and do anything but write? Hah! Me, too.
Here’s how I solve it when I want to escape from the fear that I have nothing to write, and a deadline looms.
1. First, I empty my head. Not to worry, if there are any ideas worth their salt, they’ll be back.
2. Then, thinking back to high school when I first came across it, I recall the best piece of advice ever, from an ancient Greek Philosopher and Stoic, circa 135 A.D. I conjure up this quote from Epictetus:
“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
3. Next, I let myself write a bit about whatever is distracting me… even if it’s just a few sentences. I get it out of my head and onto a page. I can trash it, or save it for later (way later even) if I like.
4. By then, I can get on with it, and words just come tumbling out. I can always edit later, or in a minute when the flow slows!
5. Once in a while, that first distraction, in this case “How many words are there on the Internet?” makes perfect sense to pursue. Tonight, this trust led me in a completely different direction than I’d planned to go. Good news is, my snippets and notes on other topics can still serve elsewhere.
6. At this point, it’s just a matter of letting ideas lead me, discovering more as I go, then editing and refining. BONUS: I don’t have to hate myself later for not writing. Win-Win!
- Sometimes for me, the images come first, and at other times, it’s the words. For today’s post, I sashayed around my library of digital collages, which I make for personal fun, and found the 3 in this post, perfect since they are all about writing and words. Besides the one above, 2 more follow.
- My favorite poetry is often short, and purr-fect, as exemplified by someone who was honored as U.S, Poet Laureate in his lifetime.
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
— Carl Sandburg
And with that, I magically surpass the 1,000 words, typos and all, that I challenged myself to write tonight. After all, if a picture is worth a thoruand words, it seems a worthy goal!
Call Sandburg is a master whose poem above creates an entire world in a mere 21 words. Perhaps one day in the very distant future, I’ll stumble into that realm of skill! Wouldn’t that be grand?
Meanwhile, one final image to conjure up the vast treasures inside your portable devices.
Lots more awaits you!