There's a great little post on XKCD examining the speeds of data delivery--especially useful given today's confirmation that Saturday USPS delivery is shutting down. It's long been the case that if you need to send someone a lot of data--like, a few hundred gigabytes--it's faster to just FedEx the hard drive. But internet throughput is growing steadily, whereas FedEx's delivery capabilities have a distinct cap--so when will the internet truly be faster than FedEx? Read the post here.
In the future, all your government mail — jury duty slips, election notices, those Social Security earnings statements — may not come in the mail at all. In Australia, federal politicians are debating ditching snail mail entirely, giving all citizens a state-sponsored inbox where they would receive all government communications.
By the year 2020, when we’re all using ubiquitous organic touchscreens, augmented reality social networks, and ultra-powerful computers to communicate, will we still be using the mail? A group of technology evangelists and postal advocates will gather this summer to talk about that, and what the U.S. Postal Service can do to make sure the answer is yes.
By D.M. LevinePosted 04.05.2011 at 10:59 am 5 Comments
Telematics, a mash-up of telecommunications and informatics, is the science of scanning the world with wireless devices to extract data, sending this data to a computer network, and using the information to do anything from tracking packages to monitoring the highway speed of grocery trucks. UPS relies heavily on telematics, as does GM with its OnStar navigation system. The federal government could do a better job of capitalizing on the science, according to Michael J. Ravnitzky. So he started thinking about one of the largest mobile networks on Earth: the post office.
Postmasters in Sweden and Denmark are looking into a clever system of vending postage that a cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service might do well to consider: selling stamps via text message. The system is supposed to roll out in Denmark in April, The Local reports, and Sweden may deploy a similar system later this year.
It may deliver in snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, but the U.S. Postal Service can't seem to deliver a net-positive operating budget. Even after drastically cutting personnel last year, the USPS still went $8.5 billion into the red, a budget gap that could lead to insolvency this year.
In an effort to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and reduce costs, Finland has begun a pilot program wherein snail-mail letters are converted into PDFs and made viewable online by their addressees, in advance or in lieu of physical delivery. So far, the effort is volunteer-only, but it has already sparked concerns in Finland about privacy and government overreach.