Go read this post at Peter Murray’s Disruptive Library Technology Jester.
And then go read the comments. Specifically the second one, where Peter Murray responds to my offhand suggestion that the bandwidth of a station wagon full of computer tapes pales compared to that of a 747 (in cargo mode) full of 50GB Blu-ray discs.
Murray, being a librarian [and, full disclosure, a long-time friend], actually did the research to determine the effective bandwidth of such a delivery vehicle. It stands up pretty well to any current network plans.
Go on to the third and fourth comments. I upped the ante. Peter had assumed slimline jewel boxes to hold the Blu-ray discs, taking half the space of regular jewel boxes. Because of some work I was doing with my CD collection, I was aware of Office Depot CD Double Slim Jewel Cases (although I didn’t use the formal name), which actually hold two discs in a slimline case.
That ups the ante, making the effective bandwidth 74 terabits per second. (I noted that you could nudge that up past 100 terabits per second by using Tyvek sleeves instead of jewel boxes, but at the expense of unprotected discs–see Peter’s response, with which I fully agree.)
By comparison, the new and improved Internet2 backbone will offer 100 gigabits per second bandwidth.
The lesson here: If you really have huge quantities of data to move, there’s still a lot to be said for physical transport.
Now: Anyone want to figure out the weight of all those Blu-ray discs and jewelboxes, and whether they’d exceed the carrying capacity of a 747?