Well it has happened! You can now purchase your stamps online as of today 19th September 2007. Of course its not traditional stamps that are available its actually bar codes! You can then print them either directly onto the envelop or on sticky labels which can in turn be put on the envelopes!
I suppose that this another “step forward” but is it? We loose out on the aesthetic side of traditional stamps as the queens head is not included any more. Some people would be happy about this other might not!
But then I suppose that it might be feasible to add our own graphic to the envelope – perhaps a self-portrait or some other view that we have some fond attachment to!!! This could be the advent of the self styled envelope – a new art form! Who knows people could in a few years time get to the point that they will be collecting ‘first editions’ – but then based on the comments above every envelop could be a first edition?
It also occurs to me that this new development may also be as move towards inefficiency. If we print a 1000 stamps in a print factory the print cost will be X but if we all start printing our own stamps on a one off basis – I expect that we will end up using vast amounts of printer ink and introduce more paper waste by using larger then necessary paper or sticky back labels etc. I wonder if someone did the analysis to if this is a green friendly development.
So this development although convenient to many, may be a backward step in terms of overall efficiency.
I suppose that its just a matter of time before we can send a snail mail letter by originating the text in the form of an email with some online service doing the printing, stamping and posting via Royal Mail for us! At least this would bridge the gap between the e-world and the traditional world.
Browsing the Metro again today over breakfast I was drawn to an article headed “YouTube is top site for your eyes”. (I checked on www.metro.co.uk) but the article does not seem to be published there as yet ) The main point of the piece is to declare the success of YouTube and to recognise its phenomenal growth between January and July 2006. The figures quoted are 478% growth with some 3.58M users (bearing in mind that is only been in service for a matter of months this is quite remarkable). The next best is Flickr at 131% growth and 1 M users. I have been able to substantiate some of this by looking at http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=178734 which gives a wide range of statistics about the growth of a number of User Generated Content Sites (UGC).
Getting back to YouTube – apparently setup by an American business man who wanted to share some videos taken at a party with the other folks who attended. The article claims that increased access to broadband in the home is a significant factor to in the development and apparent success of sites which support high bandwidth content. This does seem a fairly obvious conclusion!!
However, I am translating this to my own work in the context of the Scottish Schools Digital Network project. We can see a definite upward trend concerning the quality of connectivity, which is available to Scottish schools. If we translate the message made in the above article to the schools context we might expect that the provision of better connectivity will inevitably lead to increased use of online services.
Of course it would be rather silly to make this translation with out analysing the context of the two environments. But what we can say is that there is evidence of a significant increase in the use of UGCs – the statistics seem to confirm this as a fact. I would also have to observe from my own experience that this is the case. The SSDN provides various elements ranging from infrastructure through to applications which will support online communities. This combination will hopefully lead to a significant increase in the use online technology in the delivery of education. The challenge will be to deliver the suite of application called Glow ( used to be called the SSDN Intranet) in a way that will allow both teachers and pupils to exploit it in the best possible way.
I am not about to comment on the ‘quality’ of the use that is being made of UCGs but I do think there the is some real potential to be gained if similar applications are delivered in an Education context. There are already some examples of good work being done in this context.
There still remains a significant challenge for the Scottish Education community to fully understand the potential benefits of this technology and also to exploit it for benefit of pupils and teacher alike.
Glow is being implemented now and will be available widely in Scottish Schools in the third quarter of 2007. See http://www.glowscotland.org.uk for more information.