Some Statistics

And am attempt to explain a well-characterized bit of online behavior: Peer-to-Peer Downloaders Gorge on Songs

In 2006, the number of households with PCs that downloaded at least one song using free peer-to-peer software, like Limewire or BitTorrent, grew a modest 7.2 percent, reaching 14.9 million, according to figures released by the NPD Group, a market-research firm.

Meanwhile, the number of PC households that used royalty-paying services like iTunes Store shot up 65.8 percent to 12.6 million, meaning such services could soon become the most widely used method of downloading music.

But the average peer-to-peer household still downloads far more songs. Peer-to-peer networks yielded five billion downloads in 2006, whereas 509 million songs were downloaded from iTunes-style services.

The explanation may be, quite simply, that free downloads are easier to gorge on than downloads you have to pay for. But there are other reasons peer-to-peer users download so many songs, said Russ Crupnick, an analyst with NPD. Among them is the declining price and increasing size of hard drives. […]

A better explanation, IMHO, is that this is just a digital incarnation of an old problem — Buried Alive: Those who hoard bear the weight of their mess plus a mental disorder only now being understood. Treatment programs are just beginning.pdf

Most often, hoarding is considered a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, an illness in which people cannot stop certain thoughts and behaviors, such as washing their hands or worrying about germs incessantly. About one-quarter of those people hoard.

But it may well be that hoarding is actually closer to an “impulse control disorder,” like gambling, because those who hoard often experience active pleasure as they acquire or pile up their possessions, [hoarding specialist Gail] Steketee said.

Hoarding can involve emotions — feeling safer among walls of clutter, for example. And thoughts — like, “I’m sure I could use that broken tape deck someday!” And even unconscious values, like “More is better.”

Related: Sampling, if Not Digesting, the Digital Library