Monday, April 2, 2007

In India, there really is Paper Email!

Google had an amazing April Fools' joke out - GMail Paper Archive.

But wonder of wonders, such a service already exists in India. The Indian Postal Service has a service called "ePost". Emails sent to the post-office will be printed out and delivered to the recipient in the village. Similarly, somebody in the village could write a letter and pass it to the postman; it would be transcribed into an email and sent!!

"S.K. Bharadwaj's octogenarian uncle S.N. Bharadwaj has never seen a computer. That's not surprising, since he is a farmer in India's remote state of Uttar Pradesh. His village has no phones, never mind Internet access. Even so, the old guy is "delighted" to get emails several times a week from his nephew in Delhi, some 300 miles away.

India Post's ePost system allows anyone with Internet access to send email to those without it and vice versa. The logistically ambitious project is emblematic of modern India: Though it's a global technology powerhouse, life for many of its people hasn't changed much in centuries. A quarter of Indians live below the poverty line, and only about 6% use the Internet.

Using ePost, Bharadwaj can send an email to his uncle's local post office, where it is printed and hand delivered. In reverse, rural patrons can handwrite letters and have them translated into emails. Delivery by ePost-gram costs less than 25 cents per page and usually takes a day, compared with about a week by snail mail."

Check out the full story at Fast Company...

I am sure there is some translation service embedded into this whole thing. Mr. S.N. Bhardwaj is not going to read an English email from his nephew. And I can't imagine S.K. Bhardwaj typing laboriously in Hindi on an en_US keyboard...

An for all those non-Indians out there who are going to ask - What about Privacy?
Firstly, In India, privacy is not important. Example: Everybody knows how much everybody else is making in the same office, and knows all minute details about their co-workers.
Secondly, with privacy involved, this service would not have been possible at all.

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