Are Physical Postal Addresses Archaic

A suggestion that some kind of "person ID", "Recipient ID", and/or "Company ID" be used as a postal address. An internal database is then used to translate from the ID to a physical location. This allows one to move more easily, and provide some amount of privacy.
No. They are only one of many ways by which people may be contacted and have things delivered, or allow another person to physically go to the address for purposes which include their physical presence. To limit a person's contact address to be singular and not representative of other purposes and modes is just not sensible. One may have a home address, a home phone, a cell phone, a call forwarding number, several email addresses, a post office box, a mail forwarder, a business address, a vacation address, a hotel and room number, a flight number, and so on. None of these are archaic. (see definition of the word - http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/archaic).

Because people are more mobile, a postal address that is physical is problematic. Ideally there should be a "recipient ID", and the post office (or delivery agency) maps that ID to a physical address.

Ah, OnceAndOnlyOnce applied to address notice changes saves sending change-of-address cards to all your acquaintances and magazine subscriptions when you move! Presumably, having such a system would make rerouting or holding your mail during vacation easier too.

A similar issue applies to phone numbers.

Plus, physical addresses are poor security. I don't want Joe Cashregister to know where I physically live. That is none of their business. If a law-enforcement agency needs to know, they visit the post office or request access to their database.

In Canada, the government agency (StatsCan?) that conducts censuses sells aggregate data to marketing companies to allow them to target neighborhoods (based on PostalCode?) based on such data as average family size and average family income. A non-physical address would mean the marketers wouldn't be able to cross-reference and retain your name. They would simply have to send their material to "Occupant" at the physical address.

Who says marketers should have your name? I see nothing that prevents a customized list of whatever the marketer wants to see being created. It is just specific database queries with a few joins.


Counterpoint: Because people are often mobile, a fixed point of contact is useful, and DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork points to the physical lodging as the simplest single PointOfContact?.

Then use longitude and latitude for physical locations. I am not clear if you wish to contact a person or a location. DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork is not the case after a move or two.


Did you ever look at a return address on a piece of mail to determine whether to open it? Did you ever type an address into Map Quest to get driving directions? Have you ever seen ranges of mailing addresses used to define school boundaries, voting districts, tax districts, etc? Mailing addresses serve more than one purpose, hence OnceAndOnlyOnce supports the use of a mailing address; it is an argument against creating a new reference to serve a common purpose. We would not eliminate mailing addresses, we would merely be creating a new item to track and maintain.

If you want somebody to know your physical address, you give it to them. Simple. Otherwise, you use your Postal-ID.

Another consideration is that mailing addresses contain a lot of redundant information. Incorrectly and partially addressed mail still gets delivered. Misdelivered mail can be hand carried over by your neighbors. What happens if someone reverses two digits in a Recipient ID? Is there any hope that it could possibly be delivered to the correct address? What happens if someone omits a digit or appends an extra digit to a Recipient Code? How would the correct code ever be obtained?

Codes can have check-sum digits. There are various algorithms that are pretty effective in practice. If the check-sum indicates a problem, the mail never even has to reach a mailbox. The post office simply sends it back to the sender. It could save a lot of money. I don't want my neighbors messin' with my penis enlargement kit shipment anyhow.

Evidence: It probably cost the post office $50 in soft searching for that one. No system is perfect in all circumstances. Time to grow past nostalgia.

Yes, one must be careful not to let successes of the current system interfere with one's theoretical improvement.

Horse and buggy people made the same argument. [See ObjectiveAdvantagesOfCars]

I remember taking a letter to the main post office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, addressed to my college in England. The address finished with "Cambridge, UK, CB2 1RH" and I was told that the letter could not be accepted because "UK" was not a real state. I eventually had to address it to "Cambridge, London, England, CB2 1RH." I was outraged at the time, but now realize that for the money postal workers make, they're probably pretty good. Usually if you pay peanuts ...

I think the implication that Cambridge is in London is more worrying then that idea that the UK is not a proper state (Cambridge is about 60 miles north of London).

The people with whom I was speaking actually thought London was a country and didn't understand why I had to put both London and England.

And oddly, they weren't put off by the alphanumeric "zip code" you gave.

International mail should have the name of the country, spelled out, and in capital letters, as the final line of an address. For Cambridge, I believe ENGLAND or GREAT BRITAIN or UNITED KINGDOM are all acceptable. Since the UnitedStatesPostalService? uses two letter abbreviations for states with the USA (and some outlying territories and possessions as well), if you put UK, the question is, did you mean Utah (UT) or Alaska (AK). By rights they shouldn't have accepted your final address either.

When I was a lad in England Cambridge was, as mentioned, 60-ish miles North of London, using either the A10 or the M11. Evidently the island is not as stable as I believed. Of course, my paradigm might be wrong, and it's possible that London has simply grown another 50 miles in radius, and now also encompasses Northampton, Bedford, Southampton, and Brighton, so that would make it the London-Cambridge-Northants-Beds-Southants-Brighton Metroplex. Gag, cough, sputter. However, more seriously, I can remember when addresses in England didn't have the formalized postal codes of today, and contained such phrasing as "Near Clophill" or "By the Hangars, Near Croughton" and mail actually got there.

If you're paranoid about giving out your real address, simply get a PO box! Or move to Carmel, California, where there are no street addresses (everyone has a PO box).

-- MikeWarot

It cost more and you have to physically visit the post office to get your mail.

The rest of society is ok with real addresses. Nonconformance has costs, no matter where they shift out of sight to.

I suspect they don't understand that alternatives exist. If they did and were given a choice, they might not elect to keep using the current system for their family. Society is growing more mobile. Long-term jobs are turning into JustInTime employment, and with that comes frequent relocation.


This has the feel of the complaints that have validity only if the world of StarTrek were realizable.

As a practical matter, when traveling out of state to work on contracts for weeks or months at a time, the inability of the post office to deliver mail to ME, rather than to a physical location, has caused me a number of problems. I do like to pay my bills on time, but it's hard to do so when they can't find me, and it's costly for me to go to them. Yes, I know about online bill paying, but not all bills are available online. In today's world, mobility takes a costly toll on your credit rating.

I've sometimes wished for a mail box service that would box and ship my mail to my current location once a week or so. Of course then, I would probably start to get really annoyed at the volume of junk mail I receive, as I would have to start paying to have it delivered! -- JeffGrigg

I believe this is because they use "pointers" instead of look-up in the current scheme. They deliver it first to location A. The post office at location A then transfers it to location B (pointer), and so on. If there was a centralized table(s) by Person-ID or Recipient-ID, then it would do the look-up and send it directly to the location in that table. If you move your location, the central table changes and no pointers are needed at local post offices.
New Lease on Life?

The USPS is having some financial struggles of late in part due to recession and in part due to electronic communications supplanting paper-ware.

With the advent of the web instead of physical stores, there needs to be a way to pick up packages. Leaving it on the doorstep if nobody is home is not secure (at least not in my town).

USPS could turn post offices into Package Pickup Depots for web orders and give themselves a new niche.


See also: PartyPattern, PowerOfPlainText, SeparationAndGroupingAreArchaicConcepts, InformationIntersection
CategorySpeculative

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