Wow it took me time to sit down and write again.
I wrote a bit about sneakernets.
And I got a whole lot of replies:
ew0k: Sneakernet in a Free, Developed Society
adiabatixc: I point out that sneakernets are darn useful regardless of what society they’re in, mainly because the bandwidth of a car full of hard drives driving on the highway doesn’t vary based on politics.
degrowther: Sneakernets and other networks
Rob S: The Viability of Sneakernets
I feel like we're not talking about the same things, though. I guess I was pretty vague about my thoughts even though I tried. Primarily I failed to convey (or highlight) two things:
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.
I didn't predict that these specific terms would be so dissected. What I really wanted to convey was that most people in the western world are not personally targeted by authorities.
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.
This applies to the vast majority of people in Europe and the Americas. You connect to hundreds of servers every day. You upload and download data to/from dozens. If you want to send a file to a friend or have a community network that allows for it then... well, the internet is there. It's online. The amount of data or unreliability of the connection has to reach very high levels before it's worth it to post a hard drive across the Atlantic. And it would have to happen at insane frequencies to make it worthwhile to organise a network of people and organisations to run a data mule-style network based on it.
In many developing regions, rural bus routes regularly visit villages and towns that have no network connectivity. By equipping each vehicle with a computer, a storage device and a mobile WiFi-node on the one hand, and by installing a stationary WiFi-node in each village on the other hand, the local transport infrastructure can substitute for a wireless internet link.
"How to Build a Low-tech Internet", Low Tech Magazine
This is the obvious use case. Another use case is of course if you need to move data under the radar in a totalitarian country like China or North Korea.
But in Sweden? The US? Especially for smaller files. My entire file server archive is about 70 GB. Some people have archives of several TB, but how often do you need to send all of that?
-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal