Digital exhaust

The term digital exhaust or exhaust data has several meanings but can be defined through the following:

  • The output of human beings using the internet.
  • The "aggregation of [consumer] data through the digitization of processes and activities" in the commercial sector which generates metadata supporting corporate profit generation.
  • The production of vast amounts of information in binary code, represented as words, texts, videos, photos and other mediums, expressed on computers and websites, and distributed across the internet.
  • The individual representation of a person using the aggregate of their past interactions on the internet.

The definition combines two terms which hold similar characteristics. The term digital primarily refers to computers and electronic mediums. Exhaust, the gaseous by product of combustion, is largely considered waste. However, with the invention of renewable sources of energy such as hydrogen fuel cells, the term exhaust has been expanded to hold a more positive connotation.

The combination of the terms captures the idea that an electronic medium can produce its own exhaust system. The output is not air, gas, or pollutants but instead photos, videos, blogs, and knowledge.

See also


The definition of this term is pulled from the meaning of the word digital:

  • Expressed in numerical form, especially for use by a computer.
  • Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as on or off — 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data.
  • Traditionally, digital means the use of numbers and the term comes from digit, or finger. Today, digital is synonymous with computer.


The definition of this term is pulled from the meaning of the word exhaust:

  • To let out or draw off.
  • Pertaining to steam, air, gas, etc., that is released from the cylinder of an engine after having performed its work.
  • to draw off or let out completely, as from a container

Insight into a Person

Often our interactions on the internet can lead others to have a greater understanding of us as people. Jerry Michalski has come to think of it in terms of "peripheral vision":
Jerry Michalski, a consultant, calls the mini-feed a “data exhaust” that gives Facebook users “better peripheral vision” into the lives of people they know only casually.


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