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Jan 19, 2023
This week’s theme
Shoes

This week’s words
suede-shoed
saboteur
well-heeled
sneakernet
boot-faced

sneakernet
Amazon’s sneakernet, nicknamed “Snowmobile”

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

sneakernet

PRONUNCIATION:
(SNEE-kuhr-net)

MEANING:
noun: The transfer of electronic information by physically moving it (storing it on a device and moving the device), instead of doing it over a computer network.

ETYMOLOGY:
From sneaker (a shoe popular in everyday use) + net, alluding to someone carrying a disk, memory key, etc. from one computer to another. The shoes were called sneakers because their rubber soles made them very quiet. Earliest documented use: 1984.

NOTES:
In the beginning, you put data on magnetic tapes and shipped it to wherever it needed to go. Then came computer networks which means no need to ship physical media. Not so fast! When moving large amount of data, even with today’s gigaspeed networks, sometimes it’s faster to copy data on a device and carry it to its destination.

In Computer Networks, one of the funniest textbooks I have ever used, the author computer scientist and professor Andrew Tanenbaum wrote: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.”

Even companies like Google and Amazon use sneakernets, transferring large amount of data in trucks. Amazon, for example, uses special semi-trucks they call Snowmobiles to transfer data from a customer site to their own cloud network.

USAGE:
“We bollocks up the network. Jam the local signal. So they resort to a sneakernet.”
Peter Watts; Blindsight; Tor; 2006.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone. -Janis Joplin, singer-songwriter (19 Jan 1943-1970)

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