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The Post Office is a dying beast. Once the beacon for our communications system, it fights tooth and nail to keep going. Proposed cutbacks and possible less days of delivery are haunting this Public Service. So maybe the Post Office should start doing the one thing that is making them obsolete. Electronic Mail.
The idea of delivering messages and items from one person to another has been around since the ancient Pharaohs. From messengers that travel by horse, on foot or via ship – the transferring of written information became a vital part to being informed and ultimately, powerful. If you were a King, you had messengers ride to give news of battles, events or just personal notes.
From this, the Post Office was spawned. Persia is thought to be the first country to create a system of message delivery somewhere between 722 and 550 BC. Messengers (called Chapar) would go from Post to Post, swapping one horse for another and ultimately getting to the destination as fast as possible.
Messages would bear a wax seal to deter others from opening it. Stamps were created for payment of delivery. In India, early stamps were Watermarks of an elephants head. Adhesive Stamps showed up in 1852.
Since then, the sending and receiving of mail has been a part of our lives. You would write a 2 or more page letter saying how you were, how the family was, ask ALL the questions you need to and summarize everything up. You didn’t send another message the next day saying “Oh yeah. By the way…” You would then wait a week or two for a 2 or more page response.
Soon after, email started to evolve for the masses. Bullitin Board Systems, Point to point messaging services were available for people to post items and get response. When the ARPANET was created in 1971, Ray Tomlinson initiated the “@” sign as to separate name from toplevel domain. After that, the email revolution would start to take shape – slowly. 1994 started to really get people to look at the idea of electronic mail as oppose to paper mail.
Today, everyone has an email account. Actually, most people have more than one email account. Some even have over 5 email accounts. One for work, one for friends, one for spam… etc…
During this time, the Post Office began to suffer. People didn’t need to send letters because they could do it in email format. Companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and Google took advantage and created messaging services. If you have your own domain, you can now create your own email service from it.
The Postal Service has lost 2.8 Billion in 2008 and is expected to loose more this year. Raising stamp rates, talking about cutting workers hours and even taking a day off the delivery schedule are all proposed cutbacks. However, the mail still has to go through, right? I suppose the motto – Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. – It doesn’t say anything about a recession.
So what can the Postal Service do to survive? How about we take another famous saying – If you can’t beat em, join em.
Here is the idea – The Post Office recieves the top level domain “.po”. It then can issue out email addresses to people using a simple structure – joe.schmoe[at]us.la.ca.po or something like that. That would say it could go to Joe Schmoe that lives in Los Angeles. You could even get down to street level or zip code if need be.
There would be a lot of thinking into this idea simply because everyone with a address would get an email address. Whether they choose to use or not is a different story. Email forwarding to other accounts like Gmail would be possible, but only if a “Secure Link” was established. After all, opening someone else’ mail is a Federal offense in the US. That should not change for .po email.
SPAM could be dealt at the source. The Post Office could set up the “Standards of SPAM Detection” unit, which would monitor and report on SPAM.
Since the Post Office is a branch of the government, they could then pool in resources with other Government agencies to bring all email in-house. Agencies, such as the Department of Defense, would move their email systems to the Post office. You would then send mail to [email protected]
I was told at one time that you didn’t get “Junk Mail”, but more “Bulk Mail”, which was the Post Office’s bread and butter. In this situation, the Bulk mail would still exist – but now with a twist. Bulk mail that gets on a “Whitelist” would be email that paid postage. Lets say a store like Best Buy sends out a mailer. They could still do it, but now electronically through your .po account. If they send mailers without paying a yearly rate, their email would get Blacklisted and therefore not go to your email.
It does raise some issue – paid email vs. free. Well, you are really never getting free email. Think about it – most email systems have some sort of advertising on it. The rest is information the company can use for targeted ads. The .po email is free. You never have to pay to send or receive. However, you might see some flyers there.
By doing this, they might just be able to keep the rates of “Snail Mail” down. You never know when you actually have to send a regular email. They might also be able to keep carriers delivering on the 6th day. Lower rates means you will use the Post Office instead of UPS for packages.
A plan to roll out email to every resident might become a daunting task – especially if you bring those emails down to a street address level. If someone moves or dissapears, then the email box may get affected. However, a well organized rollout could also bring some very promising results.
Would you switch if the Post Office was to offer email?