Study info. request

Brad M Biglow (bmb@PINE.CSE.NAU.EDU)
Sun, 31 Jul 1994 10:07:28 -0700

An article in this morning's Duluth News-Tribune sparked the curiousity in
me. It discussed the U.S. Postal Service, and I'm rather certain that being
an AP article, it was nationally sindicated. Where the article particularly
struck me, was in the area of rapid information exchange that pervades the
arenas of business, professional, and leisure activities. It attributed
much of the decline in "basic" mail service to decreased use of traditional,
and info. catch-phrase "snail mail" services by consumers. Then there is
the decrease in delivery and performance quality control mechanisms all amid
a 10% increase in standard 1st-class rates scheduled to take effect this
coming year (to 32 cents). The article concluded by mentioning that the
postal service will probably never vanish because "a grandchild's crayon
picture, the pleasing heft of a seed catalogue, engraved wedding invitations-
these will be hard to replace by computer."

All that aside, the question I am posing is three-fold:

A) With the advent of electronic media for communications and its
increased uses in the private, governmental, and commercial sectors, what are
the primary purposes people still use the postal service and how is that

B) What traits tend to be held by those preferring one service
(the postal service) over another (electronic data transmissions...
e.g. e-mail and fax) and do they form their own "mini-cultures" banded
together by such things as 'techno-phobia' or 'snail-mail disgust'?
Also, how important is the "time is money" adage in defining which service
is chosen over another?

C) What significant studies, if any, have been conducted by
researchers in the areas of "B" involving electronic vs. non-electronic
mail uses and in-depth analyses of postal worker mail-room culture.
I have long heard complaints about the postal service's delivery and
other difficulties, but have failed to see any substantial documented
proof or in-depth anthropological studies of "What goes on in America's

Please mail your comments, suggestions, or perhaps, we could begin
an open posting discussion. Is this subject matter more appropriate for
such programs as "20-20" or "Inside Edition", or what? As an Info. Systems
Administrator/Reseacher, fledgling Futurist/Anthropologist, and organizer
of the SfAA's 1995 discussion panels on electronic media, I'd like to know
your thoughts. Please excuse multiple copies you may receive as this is
being cross-posted to several newsgroups in order to obtain as broad a base
of scholarly (professional) recipients as possible.


Brad M. Biglow
Systems Administrator / Systems Analyst
The Music Center Inc.
Duluth, MN - Ashland, WI ,
Wk: (715) 682-3505 Fax: (715) 682-3152 Hm: (715) 682-2137