I believe services like gmail/dropbox/rapidshare trumph CDs/DVDs for distribution purposes. If I distribute a piece of paper with a link or a QR code, people will be able to access it from their PC, phone or tablet without needing a DVD reader. 500MB is piece of cake these days.
What I would love to see is something like a data crystal from Star Trek. Something that is functional, you can carry it in your pocket AND is beautiful or stylish. Burned DVDs don't even work as presents, because they look cheap (compare them to a classic vinyl LPs!).
This is probably one of those areas where we'll never agree.
While I think that it is far better to distribute purely online with pieces of paper that have links (or whatever), they are not a substitute for giving someone data.
The fact is, the Internet sucks in a lot of places. I joke about the Internet here being the "Assie Shiternet" because I live in Australia, and the Internet is just total shit here (that may be an under
). Well, bandwidth blows, that is. It's pathetic. You can go to a third world country and get better speeds. I am NOT exaggerating. At all. There's a thread here with speeds where I posted speed from here (Australia) in a major city and from Viet Nam in a city in the middle of nowhere. No comparison. In a country where a heck of a lot of people make under $400 a year... they have better bandwidth... Sucks to be on an island in the middle of nowhere.
So distribution of data online is entirely at the mercy of bandwidth limitations. Not really much to debate there. Those are just facts.
When you have crap bandwidth, well, you have crap distribution, which makes physical media far superior in some cases. Not all, but some. If it's just a single web page, then it doesn't really matter too much. If it's a large amount of data... different story. And the limiting factor is still bandwidth.
But whether that's a CD, DVD, Blu-ray, NAND, isometricaltonic cubical crystal or whatever really doesn't matter. The point is that it's physical media that you can hand someone and that they can take it back home (or to the office) and use it with no reliance on bandwidth.
You also have the problem of reliability with online storage. You are at the mercy of your ISP, and then you are at the mercy of your service provider. I've been burned far too many times to underestimate the problems of networked data. Networked data is NOT reliable. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.
As for beauty... Yeah... No argument there. You can "print" optical media to make them presentable though. But it's an extra step and a PITA.
I'm with vlastimil, this is like planning for the future of a dead horse.
But I do have to wonder, what is the shelf-life expectancy (for cloudless offline storage) of the data on various other types of media?
Dude... from you? Seriously? I didn't expect that from you as you know networks really damn well.
(Sorry -- had to razz you a bit there!
For SSDs, it's damn good. 1~2 million hours MTBF. I know that from doing work for Samsung Semiconductor. They put that in their docs for enterprises, so they have to deliver on it. (That is all publicly available.)
I forget the Samsung NAND stats. Probably similar.
However, consider the cost between NAND/SSD/HDD and optical storage... Again, you can't beat optical storage for price for distribution.
Imagine you're out on a street corner (or trade show, or wherever) trying to convince every passer-by that <insert something here />, and you pass out either:
1) A pamphlet and storage media for interested folks
2) A pamphlet and nothing for interested folks
Where do you think you'll get better results? Physical media of course.
Now... about QR codes... It's a completely silly concept (qualified below). There's no way that anyone is going to be running around town and see some QR code and think to themselves, "Hey! I need to go and find out what that bizarre looking squiggly square is, then look for software than can decrypt it for me so that I can try and find some web site..." JFC... That's total insanity. QR can only work if it is pre-installed on all (or most) devices. Nobody cares about funky squares. They're meaningless wastes of space for most people. That is... Until it reaches past critical penetration, which it is very far from right now. (Yeah... I tend to piss on stuff early... I know...) But we've already seen this fail several times before. The QR code thing is just the new kid on the block, and he'll get his black eyes as well before long. (Unless there is serious industry intervention.)
That is, adding in an additional layer before people can get to the data is simply too much to ask. (Yes - I know what I just said, and the implications, but the installable software question is an entirely different level of commitment on the part of the recipient.)
Now, as for what I think I'd use? Different question. I use HDD for storage. It's far superior for what I need right now. No question at all there. Optical storage isn't comparable for what *I* need. However, I just burned an audio CD today for someone else, and it was good that I had CDs laying around and had a burner for it. I'd hate to spend $100 on a drive just to burn a bit of data... So there are times when CDs (or DVDs or whatever) prove useful.
Again, it's all about what you need and about how much you are prepared to pay. I'm not willing to pay $100 when I can pay less than $1.