Generated as a byproduct of activity on digital devices, digital exhaust is all the data from a person’s internet, mobile, and connected device activity.
Typically this data is part of the service provider’s infrastructure, whether for analysis or marketing purposes.
The digital data is captured and stored on disparate servers owned by the companies that create the products in use.
While this data is rarely owned by the user of the products, it is to be considered part of one’s digital ecosystem given how much relevant information it holds. The web3 movement of 2021/2022 is pushing forward the concept of ownership in a digital age, and provides numerous ways to take control of your personal data and exhaust, and use it for your own benefit. We’re still very early, though.
Perhaps in the future we’ll have some way to merge our main digital environments—such as our web of thinking—with our digital exhaust to see what patterns and insights we can identify. Don’t forget: Data ≠ Insight.