11 August 2011

Real mail via email: a round-up of services and apps and such

The letters and postcards and aerograms keep rolling in--thanks, Awesome People. I'll update the gallery soon.

I've also recently become aware of some interesting modern, digitally-assisted takes on the handwritten postcard, efforts that combine the wonders of the internet with actual physical pieces of mail in innovative and intriguing ways.

First up, as mentioned by a commenter on a recent post, Postcrossing is "a postcard exchange project that invites everyone to send and receive postcards from random places in the world. For free!" In this case, you--you personally--are writing and receiving Real Mail. According to the site, in six years of the project, participants have sent more than eight million postcards. I think that bears repeating and an impressed nod and raise of the eyebrows, yes? Eight. Million. Postcards. Cheers to that.

Then, via GalleyCat, there's Snail Mail My Email:
Type a message to a friend, family member, pet, politician, or lover, and email it to snailmailmyemail@gmail.com. Then sit back and relax while your email is handwritten, sent out, and delivered to the recipient of your choosing, completely free of charge!
It's only available through August 15th. So, you know, act now. 

A quibble, though. So. Obviously, I support every effort to bring back handwritten letters (and some of the letters in their gallery are really quite charming). But ... come on. This seems like a ... well, kind of lazy and indirect way of doing it. Yes, yes, I get it: the whole outsourcing thing is the point of the project, and I should think of it as artistic expression and an exercise in a new form of crowd-sourcing, not as a way to bring back Real Mail. But still: really?! It's sort of like if you took a pot of chicken noodle soup over to a sick friend ... but had someone else make the soup (from your family recipe, though!), and also had a courier deliver it. The end product says, "Thinking of you." The process says, "But not really." 

One of my mom's postcards to my dad in 1967.
Sorta kinda similarly, there are a couple of sites/apps that will send a postcard to someone using a photo and text that you upload. That is, you upload your photo and you write some text, and then the company makes it into a postcard and sends it off. There may be tons of sites/apps for this, but the two I know of are Postcardly and goPostal. For some reason, I actually find this more charming than cheating. Snail Mail My Email, because it's longer text, and it's being handwritten by someone else just feels so sneaky to me--again, there's the general appearance of thoughtfulness without the actual effort. But the postcards don't pretend to be something else, and they take your photo and make it into the front of a postcard, which otherwise involves takes some serious doing. It's a shortcut, sure, but it's not trying to be anything else. 

1 comment:

  1. My favorite service/project in this vein works slow down email, even without involving physical paper mail.


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