What can be achieved online is staggering. Information about any topic imaginable is available in an instant. Whether you're conducting serious research or just looking to satisfy an idle curiosity, your thirst for knowledge can be sated with a few clicks of the mouse.
Businesses are run entirely online, and instant global communication is something we all take advantage of all most every day of the week. The democratising nature of the internet means that -- with a few exceptions such as sites hidden behind a paywall, or ringfenced behind a country's own firewall -- everyone has access to the same information. Everyone has an equal right and ability to consume and publish content of their own.
But as with all tools, the Internet is not always used to its full potential. There can be few people who have not simultaneously praised and cursed the web for being such a wonderfully useful resource, but also one that is a great aid to procrastination.
We know all too well that the Internet has a darker side. For every valuable website there are countless others that do little beyond adding to the white noise of cyber babble that hides the wheat under a mountain of chaff. This is to say nothing of the myriad sites that provide access to all manner of material that is illegal for one reason or another.
On top of this, there are many, many people who love the sound of their own virtual voice. The number of blogs and personal websites in existence almost defies belief -- but how many of these sites are actually worth consuming? The freedom of the web has led to a massive surge in vanity publishing. Legions of bloggers are ready to opine, criticise, complain and witter, and armies of commenters lie waiting in the wings to pounce on typos and grammatical slip ups or just stir things up for the sake of it.
If you've ever wondered how time is actually spent online, research published by Qmee paints a somewhat terrifying picture. Pulling in figures from a number of sources, the collated data gives a snapshot of just what happens on the internet each and every minute of the day.
Entertainment features very highly on the list, with 72 hours of video footage uploaded to YouTube every sixty seconds. This is clearly more than could be watched and as the quantity of footage increases exponentially, the chances of anything you upload getting noticed are dramatically reduced.
The infographic shows that there is certainly a focus on quantity these days, and it goes without saying that quality is far from being universally high. Each minute 571 new websites are created, 347 posts are made via WordPress, and 20,000 photos are uploaded to Tumblr.
How much of this is actually of any value? How many of these websites have anything valuable to contribute, and how longlived are they? If all of this content is being created and shared -- add to this 41,000 Facebook posts, 278 thousand tweets and 3,600 photos posted to Instagram -- a huge number of people must also be looking at it.
From this we can only conclude that a large proportion of life online involves killing time, farting about, kick heels and avoiding doing that boring project that's been on hold for the last couple of weeks.
There are 204 million emails sent each and every minute. Every minute! How many of these are worthwhile? How does this compare to how many are spam, press releases, single word answers to questions and other mindless babble?
Killing time online is not all bad news, especially for retailers. Amazon manages to benefit to the tune of $83,000, 15,000 tracks are downloaded from iTunes and 17,000 transactions are carried out at Walmart. Well, some money needs to be made in order to pay for the pipes that make it all work!
Nothing is said about how much time is spent on more nefarious online activities, but it's fair to assume that torrenting, hacking and cracking, spying with webcams and so on account for a lot of web traffic, but they are notable by their absence.
So there you go. The internet in one minute: spending money, arsing about and producing hot air. Makes you proud, doesn't it?