Tag Archives: Technology

The US Postal Service is killing itself

I just stumbled across a Reuters article that said the US Postal Service was failing due to the internet. People sending emails instead of mailing cards and letters was what killed the postal service. There are a few problems with this argument.

Its been well documented that the the problems with the US Postal Service stem from the out of control pension system as well as the congressional mandate to provide service to every single household is what’s causing the problem. Also, the fact they USPS is trying to deliver packages is ridiculous.

If the US Postal Service thinks that a higher volume of mail would save them from disaster, they’d be crazy. Volume of mail (income) is going down, while costs are going up. Anybody with a business background would tell you that’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you marginally increase your income, you still need to reduce your costs.

My grandfather is a retired postal inspector. He retired in his 50’s… he’s nearing 90 years old now… retired for 30+ years. Last I heard his government pension was about $80,000/year. Yes, you heard me right, $80,000/year. Must be nice… but it sure as hell isn’t sustainable for the USPS to keep paying pensions like that.

This whole debacle reminds me of other industries failing to adapt. The RIAA and MPAA have fought tooth and nail to avoid the digital era… instead of adjusting their business model, they cling to the old and dig their hole deeper by attacking people. Remember when they fought VCRs? Now they’re delaying movie rentals longer in hopes of people giving up and buying the movie instead of waiting, therefore making them more money.

In the end, the US Postal Service using the argument that the internet is killing them is just┬áridiculous. The USPS has been around for a long time… in one way or another before it was officially run by the United States Government. I wonder if anybody ever argued that other forms of communication like phone lines would kill them? Before any electronic communication, letters were the only way to communicate across distance. Did the mail volume go down with the advent of a phone in every house? I bet it did. Its much easier to pick up the phone and call your friend.

Stop blaming the internet for your failing business model.

Barcamp Philly

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Barcamp Philly. It was my first Barcamp and it was an enjoyable experience. I met up with some old friends, Owen and Skippy, both of which I have not seen in the past 2-3 years. Technically, that’s not true, I saw Owen three weeks prior at CPOSC.

There were some good discussions and thankfully it wasn’t all “social media” topics like I’ve heard rumors of from other Barcamps. Most of the discussions I went to were good, and as usual, there were a few I wish I had skipped and a few I wish I had attended. The big one I missed was the discussion by Comcast Interactive Media where they discussed the web technologies and back end hardware used to power comcast.net.

One of my other favorites was “Building Better Web Developers – What Should Colleges be Teaching?” by Jason Wertz. Jason is a teacher at Montgomery County Community College and was looking to rebuild his cirriculum. There were a lot of bright minds at this and a lot of good ideas thrown around. Topics discussed included how to develop skill sets, what subject matter can be skipped as well as what subject matter isn’t being taught, but should be reqiured. It was interesting to see people there with very different backgrounds too. Some had just graduated, some had graduated 20 years ago. Come people had Computer Science degrees, and others had degrees nowhere relating to Computer Science.

Overall it was a good experience and I hope to go back if it is ever held again. Unfortunately I live in central Pennsylvania and there aren’t as many tech related conferences and thriving meetups in the area. Philadelphia has plenty going on, but it’s a 2 hour drive for me which is a bit too long to make on a regular basis.