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Dear Catherine, Hello, how are you?
October 30, 2009 5:37 AM   Subscribe


 
via the ever-brilliant It's Nice That, who also have a nice interview and talk with them.
posted by creeky at 5:39 AM on October 30, 2009


That would cost a lot more than the $2000 they're asking for.
posted by LSK at 5:48 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go way out on a limb here and speculate that there may be some issues with scaling the project up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:54 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The homeless get screwed again.
posted by banished at 5:55 AM on October 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


Postcrossing
posted by DU at 5:56 AM on October 30, 2009


Blog, book and movie to follow.
posted by fixedgear at 5:58 AM on October 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


They lived in that little tower? That is fuckin cool.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 AM on October 30, 2009


They lived in that little tower? That is fuckin cool.

If I remember right there's been a wee trend for using towers like that in towns/villages here as free studio/residences for artists. I like that, but I'm not sure if I like their project.
posted by knapah at 6:11 AM on October 30, 2009


Is it weird that I'm wondering about how they'd work out the logistics with major cities, where people change residences a lot? I mean, my last roommate only lived with me for a month and a half, how up-to-date are their address records?...

I think I'm not thinking about this properly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 AM on October 30, 2009


I have to say the arty little original letters piss me off. If I got a handwritten note from an utter stranger that said:

I'm a fan of numbers, but not really maths. Sometimes I mull over the specific numbers of things. For example, are there an exact amount of cows on planet earth?
Or, as some are dying and some are half-birthed, is that number blurry? This little cow question extends in my mind to millions of other things. With love, Lanka & Michael


I would feel that I'd been touched by some wondrous spirit, I'd think some wanker has an art problem and I'd feel pissed that I had to be their prop.

The sad thing is if they'd written real notes, with introductions and a little humility instead of look-what-an-artist-I-am, I bet they would have received lovely handwritten replies.
posted by argybarg at 6:18 AM on October 30, 2009 [19 favorites]


hmmph
posted by Daddy-O at 6:19 AM on October 30, 2009


You can see the problem here, can't you? If they send a letter to everyone on the planet then when I get MY letter I'm not going to feel like a special snowflake.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:19 AM on October 30, 2009


My reactions:

1) Neat!
2) Wait...that's a lot of work.
3) ...and not much money.
4) But art is art, work and money be damned!
5) I wonder how artistic it will actually seem after letter 1 billion, though. More institutional, bureaucratic and pointless.
6) Maybe that's the point.
posted by DU at 6:20 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm suspicious. Someone should check to see if this Michael Crowe fellow also goes by the name Wowbagger, The Infinitely Prolonged.
posted by bondcliff at 6:20 AM on October 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


I was just trying to do the math on how many trucks it would take just for the paper alone (assuming one piece of paper per letter) for six billion people, but got lost in the zeros.

Blog, book and movie to follow.

Color me cynical, but this was my first thought, too.
posted by Forktine at 6:22 AM on October 30, 2009


why should i pay them to send me junk mail when i already get it for free?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:30 AM on October 30, 2009


Now, if each letter to every person in the world was individually wrapped by Christo, then we'd be talking.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:36 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ok, at 500 pages/ream, 10 reams/box, 840 boxes/truck, and six billion recipients each receiving one page, their project will take just under 1,500 truck loads of paper, not counting envelopes, stamps, etc.

Or, assuming that the claim I found that one tree produces sixteen reams is true, that's 750,000 trees.

So it's kind of a cute project, but they might want to think through the implications of scaling up past the village level.
posted by Forktine at 6:45 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I'm not thinking about this properly.

I don't think it's you.
posted by chrismear at 6:52 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's see them scale this up to my village of 7,000 people and see how inspired they feel after that. That ought to keep them quiet for about two months.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


This project would probably have a bigger impact ten years from now, when handwritten letters will probably be even more scarce.
posted by Atreides at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2009


Won't someone please think of the trees?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:58 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


My great aunt lived most of her adult life in Cushendall. She died in 2007 at the age of 99. In many respects, although she remained mentally razor sharp until the very end, it was a blessing that she died. I think I just found one more respect in which it's a good thing she's no longer in Cushendall.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:02 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's possible to count to a billion out loud in a lifetime.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:03 AM on October 30, 2009


They could save time by making it a form letter.

Dear X,

You're a jerk. A real knee-biter.

Fondly,

Michael & Lenka


This doesn't solve their two-and-a-half-billion-dollar postage problem, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, y'know?
posted by Mayor West at 7:03 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


My tongue hurts with the thought of licking 6 billion stamps.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:03 AM on October 30, 2009


Ever try to handwrite every number from 1 to 100,000? A math teacher once promised to give any of us that could do that in one semester an A for the year... I don't think any of us got higher than 6 or 8000. Six billion letters? Sheyeahright.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:06 AM on October 30, 2009


"You're a jerk, Dent."
posted by gern at 7:08 AM on October 30, 2009


Didn't AOL accomplish this a decade ago?
posted by drowsy at 7:11 AM on October 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'm not saying they're lying, but raising money to do something that's impossible is pretty gd shady.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 7:18 AM on October 30, 2009


I'm not saying they're lying, but raising money to do something that's impossible is pretty gd shady.

Maybe they'll donate the proceeds to the Human Fund.
posted by DU at 7:22 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spammers must die!
posted by PenDevil at 7:26 AM on October 30, 2009


I expect my letter forthwith.
posted by grubi at 7:27 AM on October 30, 2009


Dear Citizens of the People's Republic of China,
[Arty bollocks]
Love, Michael and Lenka

Dear Citizens of India,
[More arty bollocks]
Love, Michael and Lenka

There, that's roughly 2.5 billion people done, and that still only leaves them with about 4.2 billion people still to write to.
posted by knapah at 7:27 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: some wanker has an art problem.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


has anyone used the word "stupid" yet?? No? Good... let me...

this is frigging stupid and wasteful...these people need to get a life...
posted by HuronBob at 7:43 AM on October 30, 2009


I'm on the mailing preference service, thank you but no.
posted by biffa at 7:44 AM on October 30, 2009


Do these people honestly believe what they are doing is communication? If so perhaps we could enlighten them on the fact that humans like to be treated like individuals and not like targets.
posted by edbles at 7:46 AM on October 30, 2009


Jeez, I'm surprised at how negative the responses are in here. Obviously they'll never send a letter to everyone on earth, but I thought the letters they sent to Cushendall were pretty nice. What's so terrible about this one, for example?
posted by sklero at 7:51 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, that's going to happen.

CHARLIE: Mr. President, they've asked me to talk to you about your Christmas cards.
BARTLET: What about them?
CHARLIE: They want to know which one you're going to sign by hand, and which ones gets the autopen.
BARTLET: I'm gonna sign them all by hand!
CHARLIE: Sir, we went through this last year--
BARTLET: I'm gonna sign them all by hand!
CHARLIE: I'm not sure that's practical--
BARTLET: I don't like the whole idea of the autopen.
CHARLIE: Nonetheless--
BARTLET: Let's do them by hand, how many can there be?
CHARLIE: Christmas cards?
BARTLET: How many am I sending out?
CHARLIE: One million, one hundred and ten thousand.
BARTLET: Seriously?
CHARLIE: Yes sir.
BARTLET: I'm sending out 1.1 million Christmas cards?
CHARLIE: It's a three-tiered system. There are about a thousand names on the First Family's list, then there are about a hundred thousand campaign workers and contributors.
BARTLET: Who are the other million?
CHARLIE: You send a Christmas card to everyone who writes a letter to the Whitehouse.
BARTLET: ...I do?
CHARLIE: Yes sir. And somewhere around a million people wrote you letters this year.
BARTLET: OK, but some of those were death threats.
CHARLIE: They've weeded those out.
BARTLET: Well, I'm not signing 1.1 million cards.
CHARLIE: I wouldn't think so.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:53 AM on October 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


"Jeez, I'm surprised at how negative the responses are in here."...

maybe because this is just a scammy way to make easy money.... sort of hard to say "oh how cute" to that aspect of it....
posted by HuronBob at 7:56 AM on October 30, 2009


I found the responses in the BBC video hilariously disturbing. People are actually threatened by a mass of handwritten notes? (They're obviously dangerous terrorist paedophiles, and probably crypto-anarchist Catholic Euro-backers to boot. We obviously need more closed-circuit cameras to prevent any more of this sort of dangerous nonsense.)

I have to say the arty little original letters piss me off.

Oh, lighten up.

Won't someone please think of the trees?

Indeed. Why not instead send everyone on the planet a lovely, personalized, handwritten email? Perhaps while impersonating the cancer-stricken daughter of an exiled Nigerian oil baron?
posted by erniepan at 7:57 AM on October 30, 2009


Won't someone please think of the trees?

But trees don't even read letters. Nor do they have mailable addresses. You aren't thinking straight.
posted by DU at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2009


But trees don't even read letters. Nor do they have mailable addresses. You aren't thinking straight.

You're forgetting about Ents.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 AM on October 30, 2009



I don't think it's possible to count to a billion out loud in a lifetime.

Of course it is. Assuming one number a second -- although it takes longer to say 'seven hundred thirteen million, four hundred and eighty-eight thousand, five hundred and two' than it does to say 'three', we will assume people knock them off faster than every second at the start and get better at the big numbers as they go -- and assuming you counted for sixteen hours a day starting now, you could hit the one billion mark sometime in mid-2057.

That would be a life well spent. Of course, losing count sometime in 2053 or so would be a bitch.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:51 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Any sleep worked into that mid-2057 estimate, ricochet biscuit?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 9:04 AM on October 30, 2009


Maybe I should just read your post properly and answer my own question...
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 9:04 AM on October 30, 2009


we will assume people knock them off faster than every second at the start and get better at the big numbers as they go

But since the majority of the numbers will be between 100 million and a billion, you'd probably need to allow an average of at least five seconds for each number... and some throat lozenges.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:09 AM on October 30, 2009


"Jeez, I'm surprised at how negative the responses are in here."...

it's a cute idea and Metafilter is suspicious of cute ... which is one of the reasons I love it.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on October 30, 2009


I've already received dozens of e-mails with content similar to their snail mail. I believe we call it "randomly generated spam."
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2009


Yeah, fuck cute. Hello Kitty is cute. Hello Kitty also has no mouth. Why? BECAUSE SHE HAS NOTHING TO SAY.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:11 AM on October 30, 2009


At a minute a letter, using 2008 world population figures, it calculates out to 12,760 years. With no breaks. (If I did the math right.)

If we cut the population in half to allow for multiple people at the same address, then it can be done in a much more manageable 5,707 years.

If, with practice, they could cut the letter prep time to 30 seconds, and they only wrote to 3 billion people then it would only take 2,853 or so years. Totally do-able.
posted by Futurehouse at 10:11 AM on October 30, 2009


So they're doing the personally-insult-everyone-in-the-universe guy from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Except with nice notes instead of face-to-face insults?

I like Adams' version better.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:23 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


It took me an average of 3 seconds to say six hundred ninety eight thousand sever hundred and forty two. Once you numbers get higher than this, no way you can pop off 1 a second.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:31 AM on October 30, 2009


I like the idea because I've always loved hand written letters. Letter writing is becoming a thing of the past and it makes me sad and nostalgic. There's something special about going to your mailbox and finding a card or letter there (instead of junk mail and bills).
posted by Eclipsante at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2009


I just counted to a billion. Of course, I counted using base a billion, in which there are only two numbers, zero and a billion.

Hey, I didn't make it up! It's the same system the government uses!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on October 30, 2009


I think they should hand deliver them & save the postage.
posted by yoga at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2009


Wow...I have come back to considering doing this about 10 times in my adult life. $$$ is the killer.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:48 PM on October 30, 2009


Yeah, you guys are totally right! Fuck these assholes and their stupid art project and their stupid impossible goals! Fuck them right in the ass. What a stupid bunch of stupid artists with stupid goals.

Hamburger, by the way.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2009


Yeah, you guys are totally right! Fuck these assholes and their stupid art project and their stupid impossible goals! Fuck them right in the ass. What a stupid bunch of stupid artists with stupid goals.

This.
posted by bondcliff at 1:42 PM on October 30, 2009


It took me an average of 3 seconds to say six hundred ninety eight thousand sever hundred and forty two. Once you numbers get higher than this, no way you can pop off 1 a second.

Meh. If you had been counting aloud and nothing else for the thirty-two years or so necessary to reach that point, you could probably babble "si-hun-ni-yay-thosn-sen-hun-foy-two" in a second. You have probably been enunciating: this is a common beginner's mistake.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 PM on October 30, 2009


If the world is accommodated at 2 per household - and if each letter writer volunteers to write to 50 people (a bit like with a tedious Christmas card list) then we can knock off the job with 60 million of us in a few evenings. About 60 percent of the people out there are illiterate so perhaps we could send them a drawing.
posted by rongorongo at 3:23 PM on October 31, 2009


There's a postal strike here in the UK that pretty much guarantees nobody gets their mail at the best of times. It kind of tickles me to think that this project would multiply the current backlog by several orders of magnitude. Picture the despair.
posted by RockCorpse at 10:32 AM on November 1, 2009


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