Monday, December 05, 2011

The Postal System: Use it or Lose it

International mail, interstate mail, local mail: I love it all when it's personal. Technology is forcing change, however. The basic idea -- inscribed paper sealed in a stamped envelope -- has persisted for centuries. The digital age, though, makes other means of communication easier, faster and cheaper.

From time to time over the years, I've polled various people as to approximately how many letters they've sent or received in a given time slot vs. using alternatives like text messaging, email, phone calls, tweets, etc. Since about the year 2000, most people I've asked have switched heavily to almost exclusively digital formats. Written letters permit a bit more reflection, but they take longer to get there.

As long as there still is an international postal service, why not utilize it? Surely there are people who would enjoy a letter from time to time? 

Another thing to consider: university manuscript collections and archives may treasure some of your letters, even choice ones from the relatively near past. I've already got one set being catalogued in North Carolina. Institutional archives are a good place to send letters because they have professionals who can preserve fragile items far better than most individuals. A backup method is to scan at least samples of letters and notes, or do both. That's my stamp for the day . . .

P.S. I haven't lived at the above address since the mid-1990s, but if you'd like to send old school mail via a current postal address, contact me by (yes, you guessed it) email and I'll give it to you.

Today's Rune: Defense.  


Sidney said...

Hate to see this day come, and it's more than just a usage issue. In these "interesting times" it seems we can't have nice things in the interest of "keeping more of what we make."

Adorably Dead said...

I love snail mail. Well even more so now that I've joined a swapping site. Snail mail usually means I'm getting neat tea bags or awesome letters. :p

Yesh, I'm a dork.

Charles Gramlich said...

Our local PO center is going to close down too. VEry sorry to see it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The postal service is another institution under attack from the right. When it all goes away, just wait to see what UPS and FED Ex charge. There is nothing they won't hollow out if it's for ordinary people. said...

Funny how everything you write somehow gets archived somewhere.

Every note exchanged by me and publishers in Canada is archived for all time in something called "Fonds", listed in university libraries.

There is a lot to be said about the handwritten word.