Sunday, June 08, 2014

You have mail!

 For the best part of a year my Gmail inbox has been receiving scores of emails daily which were the consequence of my subscription to various newsletters, all related to the activity of translation. My hope had been that by joining these communities there might be the chance to snag the occasional assignment. My discovery was that there are many, many people out there trying very hard to make a living from German-to-English translation. 

Since cancelling these subscriptions (a digital extension of my still on-going 'spring cleaning' campaign) my inbox has as few new items each morning as my spam folder.

All of this got me thinking about the pre-digital era and about postcards. Ten of those shown above (and on Flickr as an album here) date from the 1970s or very early eighties. The hand-drawn one from Caroline was a delight to receive, as was the photo of me on the back of which a stamp and my address had been scribbled by the irrepressible Johnny Pigozzi

One postcard , however, arrived just yesterday, two weeks after it was posted from London! But here speed is not the issue. I am sure that in the intervening fortnight my daughter and I exchanged dozens of messaging texts. But there is still something special about a postcard, and they appear to be making a comeback as British statistics in the Daily Mail indicate...

Official figures from Royal Mail reveal that 135 million postcards are now sent every year, 30 million more than three years ago. Brian Lund, editor of Picture Postcard Monthly, said "We've noticed a stark increase in the number of postcards being sent over the last few years. Back in the early 90s, when the internet and mobile phones took over, the number of people sending postcards dropped for obvious reasons - sending a text is easier and cheaper. But now people are realising that a postcard is far more thoughtful than a text message or an email, and that they can be displayed for all to see. It's my hope that we will see a return to the glory days of the postcard."

Donna Dawson, a psychologist, explains... 

“Picture postcards will always beat emails, texts and SMS messages, because they are something that you can hold in your hand and observe close up, utilising both the senses of touch and vision, and thus triggering the pleasure-centres of the brain more quickly. They also create a stronger emotional response than the newer methods of communication, and tie in with a long and sentimental history of traditional seaside holiday postcards. A postcard becomes a souvenir of a person or persons at a particular time and place, as well as a physical reminder that someone has gone to the time and trouble of selecting, writing and posting you something. And in these technologically fast-moving times, that is something to be treasured.”

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