Pondering my Digital Exhaust – 3 Fave Quotes

Draper Herbert James Mourning for Icarus, 1898 Public Domain
Draper Herbert James
Mourning for Icarus, 1898
Public Domain

I love words. Some more than others. Then I love phrases…then sentences…books.You get the idea.

But it all starts with words.

A  couple of weeks ago I heard the term, “Digital Exhaust” and fell head-over-heals in love. Two words that say so much. The irony…the humor…the terror. Two words that contain their own epic story. So today I thought I’d share with you three of my favorite quotes on the term DIGITAL EXHAUST.

First of all -What is it?

“It is all the bits (and bytes) of information about you left across the Internet. Marketers, hackers, identity thieves, social networks, people finders and even governments scour the Internet for this exhaust to learn more about you. Put the right pieces together and they can find out where you went to school, where you lived, who your friends are, where you vacation and even where you are right now. It’s a pretty unsettling thought for most of us…” (Ian Bramson, “Digital Exhaust – Leaving Your Bits and Bytes Across the Internet”)

Mucking about on-line I could trace the term back as far as 2007, so it’s not a new term, but one that’s cropping up more and more because of Obama’s “Big Data” discussion in the States.

My 3 Fave Quotes:

  1. “It’s not quite right to say that internet users are giving away their information. Access to “free” services like Google or Facebook relies on a value exchange and it is your data that is being exchanged…The digital economy has often been called a new industrial revolution. And while factories dominated the first industrial revolution, today’s factory is the human body. Instead of looking at people as “consumers” companies are beginning to think of them as “producers” emitting a steady stream of digital exhaust…The body as an “input/output device” is just one example of how digital technology is creating a new sort of biological discourse” (Arwa Mahdani, The Guardian, “Your body isn’t a temple, it’s a data factory emitting digital exhaust”)
  2. “…80 percent of new data created is going to be unstructured… It’s coming from consumers’ activities…[Some call] this unstructured data “digital exhaust,” everything consumers do on a daily basis — clicks, tweets, searches, Facebook posts.  (Todd Papaionnou ) (quote taken from Laura Hazard’s article Filtering the Digital Exhaust, GIGAOM)
  3. “In 2010, Google’s Eric Schmidt said that ‘I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time’.” ( Doug Palmer, Vikram Mahidhar and Dan Elbert Infographics by Ilovedust, Digital Exhaust and the Next Frontier in Social Data Analytics.


  • Digital exhaust is like a collection of farts in the wind that make the big companies lots of money.
  • It’s not a pretty term like the collective unconscious. It’s a demeaning term that equates my personal information with gas. That stinks.
  • Perhaps rape is too nasty a term, but I am certainly being bled.
  • Just because computers render everything down to two digits  doesn’t mean our lives needs to be rendered down to data. It’s offensive – yet real.
  • Ever wonder if we’re getting too close to the sun?

Enough of my ranting. What do you think?

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

6 thoughts on “Pondering my Digital Exhaust – 3 Fave Quotes”

  1. Humm. Well, Jo-Ann, I’m a big fan of Person of Interest, a TV show down here where someone invented a “machine” to collect all the data looking for possible terrorists. The machine also throws out the names of people at risk and the stars rescue them. I’ve done a terrible job describing a fantastic and deep show with great conflict. But I’ve never, ever written a good log line. LOL

    I think I agree with you about the terminology. Exhaust from cars and cows is killing the ozone (IMHO :)), so no I don’t like the term digital exhaust. It’s certainly a purjorative (sp?) word.

    We have sold off privacy for convenience and safety. I know when I accidentally leave my iPhone at home, I feel naked and vulnerable. Even though for way more years ago than I’d like to say, I ran around in my car all over with the little ones and by myself. Never really thought about that vulnerability. Now, I’m glad that,God forbid anyone snatches me, that if I keep the phone hidden and the bad dude doesn’t throw it away, the police can track me.

    Lots to think about and ponder here, Jo-Ann. Thanks for a good post.


    1. Marsha
      Welcome home. I hear the conference was great! And not many days till your big launch.
      I haven’t seen Person of Interest, but it sounds good.
      I love your story about how it feels to go outside without a cell phone. How quickly our world is changing.
      I worry a bit about how much I say on-line, as I’m sure you do having a blog. It’s a brave new world to be sure.


  2. There was something along this line on CBC morning show On The Island today, and the person interviewed mentioned various ways to cross the data collectors. One is to use Firefox rather than Explorer (check) but the rest escaped me although I might look for it online and write a few of them down. Not that I think I’m in danger because of it, I just like to try to stay if not off the grid, hovering slightly above it.


    1. Hi Judy
      I like to think I hover too, but I’m amazed at how the ads that show up seem so tailored to me. Except of course the weight loss ones. lol.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I missed the CBC segment.


  3. It’s an interesting world we live in where yesterday’s science fiction is today’s reality. Mostly I like to think: it’s great fodder for a story. Thanks for giving me more ideas for stories, Jo-Ann! 🙂


    1. Hi Jacqui
      I agree. It’s like we’re living in someone else’s Sci-fi story. And yes, what great fodder for the plot mill.
      Thanks for stopping by Jacqui and commenting.


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