A few months ago, I tried a snail mail to email experiment. It stemmed from a backyard bbq conversation on how with cell phone texts, email was becoming snail mail, which quickly tangented to how amazing it is that letters addressed only to "Santa Claus" can get to the right designated spot. Out of curiosity I mailed a letter to a friend with only his email as the address and only my email as the return address to see if the letter could get to him. Given the company has only one office and one person with his name/email, theoretically it would be really easy to deliver the letter to the correct location. The only obstacle is automation and a human caring enough to intercept and solve the easy mystery of the wayward note. So far it's still in the land of lost letters.
Would getting a letter have made my friend happy, more happy than getting the same sentiment in an email from me? On that thought, have noticed a few recent projects that hint at a nostalgia for snail mail, and traces of the human touch. Ironically, in these projects you first use the internet to send digital directions that's then passed to a complete stranger to create snail mail for your friend. Somehow the interluding human creates a magic touch that pixels, likewise generated from you, still don't provide. The lovely Snail Mail My Email project let people email letters to be handwritten and mailed to the recipient. The month long project attracted so many people that the founder ended up recruiting 200+ volunteers who eventually handwrote and mailed over 10K letters. At another new site, people can digitally send themselves snail mail care packages. The happiness-creating site Quarterly Co lets you sign up to receive physical items in the mail every 3 months curated by a personality of your choice; a twist on following a tastemaker's twitter/blog/interweb post of favorite things.