You’ve Got Mail

I’m an inveterate traveller and while I’m travelling, my camera is my constant companion. My iPhone – bought this year after Apple decided to upgrade their hardware and give users a better camera – never leaves my side. I’ve been running my own website for a long time and it’s filled with galleries and articles from my trips abroad and around Switzerland. In short, I like to see places and I take great pleasure in showing them to other people.

What has been missing since the boom of online travel blogs is the traditional postcard. A hurriedly written note to parents, aunts and uncles, featuring the standard “best” views of a holiday destination, seem to be less popular than in the past. In the advent of the digital age, the messages “wishing you were here” and telling brief tales of great or appalling weather have fallen a little by the wayside, replaced with online galleries of everything the traveller has seen. Often, the blog post is published from a hotel via a free wireless internet connection, instantly bringing a remote island in a distant corner of the world closer to home. Gone are the days of a scrappy piece of card, marked with suntail oil fingerprints and creased across the vinyled photograph, arriving with nostalgia and a long journey through series of international post offices.

Or, so it had seemed. Last year, PrintYourLife.com – a division of Printed Communications, Inc. in the American state of Georgia – started the goPostal service. Currently delivering only to U.S. addresses, the service combines the modern ubiquity of intelligent camera phones with the traditional postal service to offer an iPhone App and website-based service through which you can upload photos from your phone or digital camera. The uploaded images are then printed and sent on to their destination via traditional mail.

While the minor down side of a small cost for delivery and the potential ecological arguments are naturally reasons to think about whether you want to use the service, fans of more traditional mail and those who want to send unique mementoes will probably jump at the chance to use the service. As a traveller myself, I for one am keenly awaiting an international version of the service. I can foresee a multitude of uses, ranging from the more traditional delivery of holiday wishes and the possibility of sending yourself a memento of a special trip. A number of marketing possibilites also come to mind for companies, who could use the service to promote their products or services, interact with clients and fans, or create a buzz for people who may pay less attention to the internet than the average blogger.