Chugging Facebook at 54,000 Miles an Hour

In college we took a tour of the Anheiser-Busch factory in Merrimack, NH. 

It was an amazing operation watching the brewing, filling, labeling and quality control but the best part for me was the final step of the production line where 30-packs of fully packaged Bud Light were zipping by back to back at 20 miles an hour. 

I asked our guide how often the operation worked like this and was blown away when he told me “all three shifts”. 

I had to clarify “you mean 24 hours a day?”

“Yes.” Came the reply. “365 days a year, the line is shipping beer like this.”

This was stunning into itself but absolutely floored me when I realized that meant New England had to be drinking beer at that same speed!

Basically the 8 tiny states this factory shipped to where on the other end of a giant beer funnel shooting 30 packs into their mouths faster than most people can run. 

Yesterday we broke down a quick back of the envelope estimation of how much Facebook timeline is made each day: 1,300,000 miles. 

Today I realized we could look at it in the same way as that assembly line which means, if we were printing the Facebook timeline in real time we’d be printing a sheet of a paper moving at 54,000 miles an hour. 

That’s 10x the speed of sound and 15 miles per second. 

If each thumb swipe gave you a new 4″ of content you’d need to be swiping 310,000 times per second to keep up. 

Want to know just how fast that is? Here’s a video that starts a 4 hertz and goes up to 300,000. Imagine each cycle is a thumbswipe!

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