Real Snail Mail

Real Snail Mail Agent

We’ve all heard about snail mail, and no doubt sent some via the usual definition of snail mail in our time. While the usual definition of snail mail would be slapping a stamp on a letter (made of paper, yes) and sending it via your post office, a pair of artists have taken this idea somewhat literally.

RealSnailMail is a webmail service which was created by Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, using real living snails equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to deliver electronic messages. This dates as far back as 2008, so it’s not new by any means, yet somehow I came upon it by chance a couple of days ago.

A short paragraph on their site explains how it works, although I seem to have misunderstood the process the first time I read about it on Bit Rebels. There aren’t actually snails traversing the globe trying to find you and deliver your mail! Well literally, anyway.

Our snails are equipped with a miniaturised electronic circuit and antenna, enabling them to be assigned messages. Your message is collected from a despatch centre at one end of their enclosure. Once associated with the tiny electronic chip on the snail's shell your message will be carried around until the snail chances by the drop off point. Here more hardware collects your message and forwards it to its final destination

It’s good to know, however, that these snails are well taken care of and even given names and unique identities, but the average snail doesn’t last all too long, so it is evident many of them have gone to “greener pastures”, as mentioned on the site. May they enjoy their new leafy surrounds.

As of today, the current average delivery time for a message is 941 days 12 hr 31 min 8 sec, and the current average transfer time for a message is 22 days 13 hr 20 min 41 sec (the former being the average time from when the email was sent to when it finally arrives at its destination, and the latter the average time from when the snail collected the email to when it forwarded the emails). Quite the hardworkers, for all their speed!

Would you send a mail by real snail mail?

boredomresearch: Real Snail Mail