Snail mail is far from dead, research finds

September 27, 2012, University of Bath
Snail mail is far from dead, research finds
'Postcrossing' might give researchers clues to improving digital communications.

The rise of social media is often associated with a decline in the use of traditional forms of paper-based correspondence.

However, in a recent study by PhD researchers from the Department of Computer Science has found that the old methods of communication now often overlooked are actually more valuable than ever before.

The researchers studied in the online community 'Postcrossing', where members send paper-based postcards to other members around the world.

Their research seeks to understand what it is about sending a postcard that motivates participation in this community. It is hoped that by understanding this, new that incorporate the most treasured elements of digital and traditional can be designed.

The project is being carried out by Ryan Kelly and Daniel Gooch. Ryan said: "With the rise in use of email, and online forums, it would be easy to believe that the writing of letters is dying a death.

"However, we've found that the power of these technologies mean that there are opportunities to facilitate the exchange of paper-based media in new and exciting ways.

"From the knowledge achieved through this study we plan to derive some design criteria to help improve digital communication systems."

Daniel said: "Our research found that the most valued elements of correspondence through postcards were the , the wear and tear received during transit and the use of personalised images on cards.

"People like to receive a letter through the post, it carries an element of surprise, people are keen to quickly find out who the letter is from."

These are the treasured elements of correspondence that the researchers believe could be useful to build new digital systems that help people connect in a more meaningful way.

The , 'Understanding participation and opportunities for design from an online postcard sending community', is available to read here.

The research team hopes to continue its studies involving Postcrossing, and to look at other practices like online pen-palling and use of Christmas cards. These will give the researchers new ideas about how to link digital and physical technologies.

Explore further: E-learning must synch or sink

Related Stories

E-learning must synch or sink

January 30, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- According to one University of Alberta researcher, people looking to further their education through e-learning may want to look carefully at the conditions under which online coursework will give them the ...

PayPal lets Facebook friends send cash

November 17, 2011

Online financial transactions powerhouse PayPal released an application on Thursday that lets friends send one another cash at leading social network Facebook.

UC Berkeley-USC project to study 'digital kids'

April 15, 2005

A University of California, Berkeley, professor is spearheading a team just awarded $3.3 million to study "digital kids." "It will be exciting to investigate kids' innovative knowledge cultures, and how they learn using digital ...

Recommended for you

'iPal' robot companion for China's lonely children

June 14, 2018

It speaks two languages, gives math lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through the tablet screen in its chest—China's latest robot is the babysitter every parent needs.

Apple closing iPhone security gap used by law enforcement

June 14, 2018

Apple is closing a security gap that allowed outsiders to pry personal information from locked iPhones without a password, a change that will thwart law enforcement agencies that have been exploiting the vulnerability to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.