Just recently my family and I moved from Portland, OR to Ananda Village in Nevada City, CA. In the process of moving, it struck me that we were directly experiencing what data goes through when trasnmitted over the Internet.
First, we set up the protocols of the transfer: closing up connections where we were, opening connections where we were going, and arranging the transfer pipeline (aka UHaul).
Second, we did a serious job of compressing the material totality of our three lives into a 20' truck (and the minivan). The compression algorithm had several stages: the small scale (local) compression of packing boxes, then the large-scale compression of stuffing those boxes into the truck. I've always had a pretty good spatial ability (e.g. 3D Tetris), and got the truck completely stuffed floor to ceiling and front to back. If we'd had one more box we might not have done it!
It was quite amazing, in fact, to see that everything we owned could be fit into a 16.75' x 7.75' x 7' volume (OK, so the wheelbarrow was strapped on top of the minivan...). But it really shows what happens during compression--when you remove the extra space that normally surrounds our stuff.
Third, we did the transfer of all this "data" by driving the truck and van the ~590 miles down I-5 from Portland to Red Bluff (spending nights in Eugene and Mt Shasta), Hwy 99 (through Chico and Oroville), then Hwy 20 (Grass Valley and Nevada City), Hwy 49, then Tyler Foote Road. It was a long haul, but certainly made much easier with compressed data!
Fourth, when we arrive at Ananda Village on August 13th, we then started the process of decompressing the data--expanding from the truck into the house, again through a multi-stage process of unloading the truck, then unloading the boxes. Transfer complete!
As a fifth point, it was certainly clear that the compression algorithm (packing) took considerably longer than decompression. That is, it takes more analysis to understand how to pack things efficiently, whereas unpacking is relatively mindless (except figuring out just where everything is going to go in the new place!).
I can also say that while I won't be desirous of making a long-distance move again anytime soon, our data fortunatly has no emotional involvement in such processes and is very happy to be squished and exploded over and over again. For myself, I've been thankful for the good nights' sleep I've been getting for the last week. Phew!