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:
- What Role Does Mail Play In Your Life Today
- What's the Biggest Challenge Facing the U.S. Postal Service Today?
- 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.
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.
And finally, someone pointed out an unusual “biggest challenge” that I could not resist sharing.
This question is a part of the museum's Systems at Work exhibit. We encourage the exhibit's online visitors to leave their thoughts on these topics, just as visitors to the actual exhibit are doing. Click here to participate.