January 21, 2007

Maps as addresses

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 10:29 am

Following the recent story in which someone sent a letter to his friend in Cornwall with a map for an address come two more stories:

1. Harriet Russell sent 130 hand-designed envelopes through the post consisting of puzzles for addresses, of which the PO solved 120. One review on Amazon describes it like this:

Author Harriet Russell grew up in a house called Shulbrede Priory; not surprisingly, people often misspelled that name, and Harriet bemusedly noted how often her family received their mail even when it was grossly mislabeled. Harriet later moved into a flat with a less challenging address, but viewed her earlier mail experience as a challenge; she began mailing herself letters. However, for kicks she purposefully obscured her address in various ways. Initially, she simply tried to make the address difficult to read; for example, the first envelope in this book presents the address written in mirror image. When these inaugural efforts arrived unscathed at her home, she made them more challenging – veritable mysteries for the mail carriers. One of the envelopes involved a crossword puzzle, and sure enough a postal worker carefully solved the puzzle, recording the responses in red ink and neatly written block letters. Other envelopes required a dot-to-dot procedure or cracking a code before the address became apparent.

2. Now there is an American challenge. Can the USPS deliver this letter:

As I noted before, this was all anticipated in the 1980s by geographers Peter Gould and Waldo Tobler. Gould had a number of postcards sent to Tobler from around the world with just a lat-long for an address. Four cards were delivered to Tobler (at the university rather than his home which was the location on the cards) presumably because his name was recognized.

Both Gould and Tobler have written about this, and the experiment is described online here.


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