Comparison of Mail Communications 933 - Essay Example

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Comparison of Mail Communications

New technologies have always allowed us to do things faster, more

efficiently, and more professionally than ever before. Generally, every

new technology is a step forward for speed and productivity. But,

despite this paradigm, the coming of the latest mail communications

innovation has brought many pros and cons with the package. Electronic

mail could be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but there are many

who find flaws in it. We are now going to take a moment to compare the

speed, ease, reliability, and expense of electronic mail with our

general postal system.

The speed of transfer is an important part of the decision to send mail

by either protocol. E-mail has a distinct advantage in this category.

With the click of a button, your message will be received in a period of

5 to 30 seconds. Whether you are sending e-mail to a person across the

street or in Afghanistan, the transfer rate is virtually the same.

Also, data files and computer applications can be sent via e-mail;

however, large files will slow upload & download time even though they

are sent in seconds. Unfortunately, physical packages such as gifts or

magazines cannot be attached to e-mail. On the other side of the

spectrum, the postal service can send any kind of physical package, from

a magazine to a pool table, for a price proportional to its size. The

postal service can also transfer data if it is placed on a disk or a

CD-ROM. Speed, however, is a problem. Even the smallest letter takes

from two days to two weeks to deliver, depending on the locations of the

sender and the receiver. Even sending a letter to the house across the

street takes time due to unnecessary movement. The mail is taken to the

nearest large post office, sorted there, then delivered to the post

office closest to the destination, and delivered from there. In other

words, mail that is sent across town sometimes has to travel out of town

and back again to reach the final point.

Another variable aspect of the two mail systems is ease-of-use, which

can potentially be quite costly. E-mail has many disadvantages when

viewed from this angle. For one thing, e-mail requires some knowledge

of computer operation. Anyone who wishes to use e-mail needs to know

how to use the software that it requires, and one can only send e-mail

to other people with the same knowledge. Secondly, a computer with

various equipment is needed. Hardware includes: motherboard with

processor ($300+), hard drive ($100-$200), four megs RAM ($60), video

card ($80-$200), fax modem ($50-$200), and monitor & keyboard

($200-$450). The e-mail user also has to pay a monthly fee on his

e-mail internet account, generally ranging from $8 to $25 per month,

whether the account is used or not. The only financial advantage to

this system is that postage stamps are not required. General mail

differs in that the only knowledge required is literacy, and the only

equipment that is needed is an envelope ($.03) and a stamp ($.32). No

monthly fee is levied on mail users, and anyone can send and receive

mail. These facts show that, in terms of expense, the Postal Service

has an edge on E-mail.

Finally, we will review the reliability of each system. Because e-mail

is run by a computer network, human error is impossible. Consequently,

e-mail is always transferred to the correct address; it never is lost,

stolen, and its contents are never removed. Unfortunately, since humans

do operate the servers that transfer the messages, server operators have

the power to read mail that is passing through. They also can copy

files that are attached to messages, though the messages and files

themselves are not damaged in any way. The old method of mail, on the

other hand, has even more problems. First, since humans deliver the

envelopes, error is not uncommon. Letters have been delivered to the

wrong address on numerous occasions; checks and other items have been

stolen out of packages by dishonest postal workers. In short, both

e-mail and our traditional mail service are unsafe.

After viewing all of the details of each system, a declaration that

either protocol is better than the other would be sophomoric. Each has

its pros and cons. E-mail may be faster, but it is much more

expensive. Mail may be easy to use, but it is slow. Each individual

must choose which system fits his needs and is most comfortable for

him. The healthy competition between the two creates a better product

selection for all of us.