I am always interested in vernacular creativity, the kind of things ordinary people get up to, the creative practices and processes and the way they makes people connect and interact. David Gauntlets “Making is Connecting” comes to mind.
A few years ago I did a lot of research on Flickr and how people interact through photos shared online. People have shared memories, stories and jokes, established and maintained relationships through images long before digital media arrived. The practices have evolved though digital media and internet. New ways of interaction though images and, in particular, playful practices are developing continuously.
There are also still people who use snail mail to communicate and connect with others and express themselves: such as those who make and trade artist trading cards, mail art or simply send postcards though the mail.
I always used to love buying and occasionally sending postcards, but with the internet, email etc. somehow mostly have stopped doing so. The last postcard I sent was to my grandmother, before she died last year.
Every summer I remind my son to send postcards from his summer travels to his grandparents in two countries and to us and he dutifully obliges. Everybody, grandparents on all sides, me and my husband are delighted. However, recently he told me, that even though he does send the postcards (after being reminded though a facebook message or email via his ipod touch) he “does not get this postcard thing.” Why would anybody want to receive some random card with some superficial notes, when one could send personal photos and phone, skype, facebook or chat instead?
I don’t know if I managed to explain it to him properly. In any case, for us who grew up without the internet, with telephone land lines, mix tapes and analog film, a card, which has been bought, written, stamped and mailed by somebody, and physically made its way across the globe is still something special.
A few days ago, I signed up with postcrossing.com – a platform in support of sending and receiving postcards from people all over the world. I posted my first cards, on to Belarus, one to Hong Kong and one to Germany and now I will wait and see who will write to me.
Meanwhile I browsed the gallery of hundreds of postcards posted online, which people have mailed to each other through postcrossing. Yes, the postcards are sent through mail but can also be “collected” online.
I particularly like the multiview tourist postcards, which use the letters of the name place as a frame for images. Perfect combination of word and image! So I have picked a few from postcrossing.com to share with you. I would be really chuffed if I got one of those! I’ll keep you, ahem, posted.
See also the academic paper on postcrossing by Ryan Kelly Understanding participation and opportunities for design from an online postcard sending community
And did you know, today is World Post Day!