I read this log the other day, which reminded me of the coolness of sneakernets.
The article focuses on a new feature in NNCP called asynchronous ACK. I'm not going to go on about that at length but I can't stop myself from sharing my thoughts about it, which I've already shared on fedi:
I wonder what an asynchronous ACK is actually useful for. In a live transmit protocol like TCP there's an upper time limit to wait for an ACK before resending a packet. What happens when there's no upper time limit? If we sent a packet a year ago and haven't received an ACK yet... do we resend? The sneakernet used must be organised so that there are recurrent routes and the sender can expect to hear from the receiver within a known time frame.
Regardless, the coolness of the very idea of sneakernet is incredible. I just want to use one. For something! I don't even know what, just something. When I talk about "sneakernet" in this post I don't mean the occasional file moved on a USB thumb drive between friends once in a while (even though that technically counts). I'm thinking about organised sneakernets between several actors, be they individuals or organisations.
But is there an actually useful purpose of sneakernets in democratic countries in the developed world?
Suppose that you aren't persecuted or part of a criminal network. Which actual use do you have for a sneakernet then? It's super simple to set up a server with sftp or file upload and download through https. That's also a lot faster and less costly than posting microSD cards to each other.
To use a sneakernet in that case sounds like using a cumbersome solution to a non-existent problem. Despite that the idea of it persists and has a certain charm. Just look at NNCP; It just got an update to better support a network of data mules. Is anyone in a real need for this actually using it?
I'd love to hear of people's experiences of real uses of sneakernets that isn't just a novelty.
-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal