Everything Changes: Mister Postman Gets Saturdays Off

If you ever thought that something will last forever, get ready for a smack on the head.

The latest evidence of this grand falsehood is today's announcement from the United States Postal Service of a new plan to halt mail delivery on Saturdays, with the exception of package delivery.

The move, which is scheduled to begin this August, would save the post office $2 billion annually. Under the proposed plan, mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays, and post offices currently open on Saturdays would remain so.

This is all just in the planning stages, since Congressional approval is needed to make such a drastic change. But the USPS is expected to cite figures demonstrating the American public would be behind such a move when it makes its formal announcement later today.

Shifting Technology, Always

Technology has a way of disrupting the hell out of the things and processes we have come to accept as "always there" in our lives. If you went back 15 years, it would hard to imagine five-day mail delivery, yet here we are, with an proposal that makes sense. Personal mail delivery has fallen drastically since the advent of e-mail and social media networks.

Five years ago, I might have objected to such a plan. Saturdays were a big day for checks from publishers. Now that all my funds are direct deposited, I no longer care.

It's not just the mail, of course. A decade ago, it would have been hard to conceive homes not having landlines for phones, and yet these days it's commonplace, thanks to ubiquitous cell phones and e911 services that geolocate phones. (If I didn't live in a plaster-walled Faraday cage, I would ditch the landline in a minute.)

Five years ago, it would be really hard to imagine a world without a desktop Windows monopoly, but then Apple and Google took the computing world sideways into the land of smartphones and tablets and now things have gotten so bad for Microsoft, they've had to put financial stakes into companies (i.e., Nokia and now Dell) just to ensure Microsoft has a vendor that will actually sell Windows on said smartphones and traditional PCs.

For those of you who find that line of reasoning hard to accept, it may be time to let go of the staid notions you might have about technology. Nothing in this business lasts forever and something will always try to replace the technology you are using.

It's All Been Done

Many of us of a certain age have watched some new technologies rise to prominence, only to nearly completely fade away. Fax machines had a particularly short tech cycle, and VCRs shorter than that. Landline telephones had a good long run, as did personal desktop computers. But now, it seems, their time is waning.

This is not a proclamation that "the desktop is dead." But personal computing is changing, and drastically. We have inklings of what this might look like, but like any change, it's going to have its share of bumps and scrapes along the way.

Today's announcement from the USPS reflects the fundamental change in the ways we communicate. There will be other world-shaking announcements in the months and years to come, and we need to be ready.

Five-day mail delivery?

No idea is unthinkable any more.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.