As we create the next generation of our pervasive-computing society, not only is the virtual world entangling the real one, the blending of the two worlds gives us an opportunity to save the Post Office. Suggesting that the US Postal Service go digital is not new, but done properly to address real needs of consumers it will save the organization. That is not to say that the Post Office should abandon paper and packages to the private sector, but should add digital services to its list.
Our society is barreling forward ever deeper into a pervasive computing environment, and the addition of augmented reality is just another way for the virtual world to reach into ours. One can now see a much more layered landscape around them by just looking through the lens of their smart device (someone should modify some 3D gaming headset design into an AR ring like the ones in the William Gibson book “Zero History”). The problem that starts to manifest itself is that the web is too wild and wooly a place for most people to feel completely safe to operate in.
We all appreciate the ability to operate anonymously on the Web, but that same anonymity, among other things, prevents email from being as useful a tool as it could be. Registered emails, money transfers, and business transactions would be much more reliable and secure if people could trust the source of the communications is truly who they believe them to be.
The Post Office should set up a regulated and secure email and ecommerce system open to all American citizens (foreign nationals could use a related system that would also managed by the USPS). It would provide secure message transfer under postal regulation and protection, and the ecommerce system would be an electronic money order with that protection and security. Epostage would help deter spam, as would applying postal law to regulated email. A penny or two per email along with money order fees would give the Postal Service the funds they need and preserve federal mail service. This could also be a useful part of the official citizen web identity stuff currently being proposed.
We need to be able to function seamlessly and securely in the information sea we are creating. Electronic Postal Services would not replace private systems, but would provide a secure area for those who wish it and save a critical American infrastructure in the process.
(BTW, if you like Science Fiction, check out my book Cyberchild. Let me know if you liked it or not, please.)
By Alix Paultre, Editorial Director