Everyone hates junk mail, but I find myself hating the regular mail more and more as well. Bills can be paid and viewed online. I can see my bank statement from my phone. Magazines have online editions. Why are we still wasting paper sending physical copies of things? A new startup that just launched in San Fransisco wants to take the burden of physical paper off your hands by digitizing all your snail mail and emailing it to you. Sure, the physical mail still exists, but you won't have to deal with it. You have people for that now.
It's no secret that the United States Postal Service has seen better days. While it used to be veritable king of the world, providing what was pretty much the only form of communication, now it's sort of stuck in the past, providing only what is pretty much the most outdated form of communication. You can't expect a huge, historic, national institution to go down without a fight though, can you? Of course not, and that's why the Postal Service is starting to run subtle attack ads against the scourge of email. Although it may be true that a refrigerator has never been hacked (yet) and that a corkboard has never been attacked by a virus, the arguments don't seem to weigh the relative importance of speed. Sure, snail mail is infinitely safer from a cybersecurity standpoint, but email is also practically instantaneous. Worthwhile trade off? Probably. As mentioned in one of the ads, USPS does, however, send packages -- a service that the Internet has made all the more important -- and it tends to keep other courier services in check price-wise. It's easy to poke fun at snail mail, but until someone designs a replicator, physical mail delivery does have a place even if it's a smaller one than before. Video of the ads after the jump.
There's definitely something to be said for physical writing and correspondence. It just feels more real. That's why I write for a blog; it's like playing pretend. But really, I can see why people would want to send and receive physical snail mail despite not having the time or force-of-will to sit down and write it. That's where Snail Mail My Email comes in. These lovely folks will take your email, painstakingly write it on actual paper, place it in an actual envelope and send it in the actual mail. Or at least thats what they were doing until they were swamped with requests. And how could they not be? The entire service is free and based around donations and volunteers with, presumably, better handwriting than I have. Due to the massive response of both requests (it's over 900!) and volunteers (over 220), the project has been put on hold indefinitely so that its structure can be reevaluated. Considering the massive demand of requests and supply of volunteers, it seems certain this project will come back after some reorganization. The only question is whether or not monetary donations will come in a sufficient quantity and regular enough basis to keep things afloat.