You’re walking down a street in your local town. You have your phone in your pocket with Bluetooth and the GPS turned on. Every second you are exhausting digital information about the location of that phone.
As you walk you get a notification about a Facebook message from a friend – of course you’re available to meet later. Even more digital exhaust is emitted about who you are, where you are and how quickly you respond to messages.
This is a regular route to get your car out of a car park. As you approach your vehicle Google Maps tells you that it’s a 30 minute journey home. How did Google Maps know where your home was and that you were heading that way? More digital exhaust.
Earlier Apple Maps had told you that it had recorded where your car was parked and could help you find it later. How did it know that you had parked up? It used the digital exhaust from your phone to know that you had stopped alongside your phone disconnecting from the car Bluetooth system.
While you were out you’d been to the local store to look at some new clothes, they didn’t have your size available so you checked the store’s online store to see if they had different sizes in stock, they did, but you decided to keep looking in other stores. Next time you go to a news website there are adverts being displayed for the clothes that you didn’t buy. More digital exhaust.
Your exhausting all over the place.
As carbon-dioxide and water is the exhaust of a combustion engine – data is the exhaust of your Internet interactions.