Time in a bottleneck
June 21, 2008 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Snail mail isn't that slow, unless you use real snails.... As part of a "slow art" project, Vicki Isley and Paul Smith of Bournemouth University have attached radio frequency identification chips (RFID's) to three gastropods, Austin, Cecil and Muriel. The RFID's will pick up your mail as the carriers amble past an electronic reader and deliver it when (in just a few days! ...or weeks ...or months....) they slip past a second reader.... RealSnailMail!

The system is up and running (When I tried it.).
There's even a snailcam, which will be available August 11th - 15th, 2008.

Also, from the website:

DISCLAIMER: RealSnailMail is still under development.
For testing purposes some messages may be forwarded sooner than expected.
Sorry we can not guarantee unreliability of service at this time.
We hope to have RealSnailMail working less predictably as soon as possible.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What a silly and pointless idea.
posted by ghastlyfop at 10:40 AM on June 21, 2008

What a silly and pointless idea.

I agree. It's great.
posted by rokusan at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2008 [7 favorites]

Come on, it's kind of funny.
posted by languagehat at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2008

It can't be both silly and pointless!
posted by aubilenon at 11:11 AM on June 21, 2008

In addition to mean dogs disrupting mail delivery, now we have to worry about clumps of tasty lettuce.
posted by Tube at 11:23 AM on June 21, 2008

I love this. I went to see the two artists behind it doing a presentation in 2006, they were working on it then so it seems they're taking the 'slow' element really literally!

They are very sweet and really inspiring as a collaborative couple. They're from a fine arts background but started dabbling with digital stuff to explore ideas around duration. Their first project was to make a bit of software to haunt willing people via their pcs - a game that went on for months. Their other stuff is really beautiful, check out the wish project for an example.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:03 PM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Next project: actual Spam.
posted by pracowity at 12:06 PM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

My wife's email system at work would actually be improved by moving to this method.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2008

"It could be quite frustrating for some people," Vicky Isley, one of the artists told BBC News. "It's completely subverting that normal system."
No it isn't. It's completely orthogonal to that normal system, not subverting it.
posted by Flunkie at 12:38 PM on June 21, 2008

I just got back from investigating the links you posted. My goodness. Thank you, freya_lamb.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2008

Looks like these folks have yet to realize the true potential of snail-based data transfer. If only they had consulted the literature (PDF), they would know that the SNAil-based data transfer Protocol (comprising a snail attached to a cart with DVDs for wheels) is capable of data transfer speeds of 37,000Kb/s. Perhaps they need to unlock the power of lettuce-based guidance in order to improve their throughput.
posted by ssg at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

How do you tell real, live, full-motion video of snails isn't just a still image?
posted by tommasz at 1:59 PM on June 21, 2008

This is all good stuff. Those extra links contain some brilliant projects too.
posted by patricio at 4:52 PM on June 21, 2008

This could all go horribly wrong if they salt their email passwords.
posted by srboisvert at 3:25 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've tried sending a snail message. I wish I would get regular status updates. I want to know if a snail has picked up my message and if so, what my snail is doing!
posted by zia at 7:43 PM on June 22, 2008

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