Monday, February 9, 2009

E-mail, Snail Mail and Kid Mail

Ponderings on the different types of mail systems that are in use today and how the idea of what defines mail and a mail system have evolved.

Mail:
1. Materials, such as letters and packages, handled by the postal system.
2. A system by which letters, packages, and other postal materials are transported.

E-Mail (technology inspired, abbreviation for electronic mail):
1. A system for sending and receiving messages electronically over a computer network, as between personal computers.
2. A message or messages sent or received by such a system.

Snail Mail (a technology inspired retronym):
1. Conventional post, as opposed to e-mail.
2. The conventional postal system.

Kid Mail (obviously not inspired by technology but more likely by economy):
A folder system of relaying daily paper notices to parents/staff. (schools.lwsd.org/Discovery/glossary.htm)

In southeast Michigan kid mail is very common and is even used by parents to send notes to other parents through their kids; however, kid mail must be a regional concept as I was hard pressed to find the above definition.

Where does the evolution of mail leave pen pals? Should e-mail pals be called keyboard pals? Or have text messages, instant messages and chat rooms taken over?

3 comments:

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

I miss having pen pals! When I was in high school, I had pen pals from England and France. I wish the art of writing letters would become hot again!

Medio Azadi said...

I had a pen pal years ago. Our correspondence strongly affected me in a variety of good ways. Each time I had to wait for about 2 months to get the next letter, while it would occasionally take longer for us to get letters from each other (she in Germany and me in Iran). I lost contact with her for certain reasons.
Fortunately, however, I found her recently by making an Internet search that took me less than half an hour. She was online and we reconnected in a matter of minutes.
Still being in the old habit of the 'snail mail', we don't use the Yahoo! messenger to chat online or the 'email' to correspond fast. Under an unspoken agreement, we still write to each other, 'email' this time rather than 'snail mail' indeed, and each time we wait for a couple of days to get a reply.
There is something romantic about the 'snail mail' which is missing in the email, at least for me.
Nevertheless, I have to strongly assert my strong support for all forms of technology, including the Internet (and its subset of email), which reconnected us.

Medio Azadi said...

By the way, why not call them 'e-pals' rather than 'e-mail pals/ keyboard pals'?

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