"Systems at Work" Visitors’ Comments – What's the Biggest Challenge Facing the U.S. Postal Service Today?

05.01.2012
Blog

By Nancy Pope, Historian and Curator

At the end of the new “Systems at Work” exhibit, we ask visitors to think about three questions and leave their comments on post it notes in the gallery. The three questions are:

  1. What Role Does Mail Play In Your Life Today
  2. What's the Biggest Challenge Facing the U.S. Postal Service Today?
  3. Design a machine for making that improvement – what would it be? What would it look like?

This blog offers a look at some of the thoughts visitors have left in answer to our second question – “what’s the biggest challenge facing the U.S. Postal Service Today?” The postal system is often in the news these days, as mail volumes continue to shrink and officials work to refine the system. But what, exactly, are the challenges that are causing all of this.

Most of the visitors who responded to this question agreed that the biggest challenges facing the service today are the Internet and cell phones. From email, online banking, and text messaging have all moved communications that were once part of the mail stream into the virtual world. Some, like this poster, argued for efforts to keep “handwritten communication” alive. But most restated a familiar theme – communications are continuing to move and change.

Trying to compete
Technology is making
 

There were certainly a few other thoughts about the biggest challenge facing the system today:

The declining popularity
Decoding peoples
 
Making enough money
Social networking
 

This question brought people’s attentions to the service itself with a few visitors’ attention being drawn to either side of a discussion of turning postal duties over to privately funded companies.

Do not privatize
Privatize
 

And finally, someone pointed out an unusual “biggest challenge” that I could not resist sharing.

How to send whole cakes?