As we saw during my presentation in class, I often take the simplest route to understand digital humanities. Sure, I think that virtual realities sound cool, but that’s about the extent of my interest. My primary concerns are the ways in which technology can make human life simpler. Many people have a problem with technology because oftentimes technology will take the place of the labor force. One area where we see technology taking over and industry dying is the postal service. Hardly anyone sends letters anymore because emails and phone calls are much more convenient forms of communication. Packages are often shipped online, so the face-to-face interaction inside the post office is diminishing. The postal service needs to come up with a way to fix these problems before the entire service ceases to exist. James Cochrane, CIO of the United States Postal Service (USPS), has come up with a solution.
Instead of trying to compete with technology, Cochrane’s idea uses technology for its advantages to create something new. He wants to see an upgrade of the Intelligent Mail bar code system (IMB). IMB currently used IM scanning devices to scan barcodes for information that is then transmitted to a central database. Cochrane envisions IMB as a marketing tool for retailers and catalog companies. For example he says, “Consider a clothing retailer that receives an email or text message alert from the USPS that a particular customer in Salt Lake City has just received the company’s holiday catalog. Upon receiving this real-time alert, the retailer can immediately email the customer a digital coupon or promotional offer in an effort to drive sales and enhance the overall customer experience”. I think his idea is good, but lacks certain necessities.
There are pitfalls in Cochrane’s idea. First, where is the need for the USPS? Why cant companies just do this for themselves on the barcodes on their products. Secondly, the USPS is a government agency that must protect consumer privacy. I don’t know about you guys but I’m sure I don’t want a million emails from all of the places I get shipments from on a daily basis trying to sell me more stuff.
All in all I think the James Cochrane has the right idea to try and use technology to his advantage instead of fighting it. Some of the other ideas they have are augmented reality print ads to create an interactive experience, a cloud based hub for validating credentials of individuals, small flying vehicles for delivery, and more. His ideas are far from fully developed. Keep trying!