The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

My Name Suggestion: 'Da Internet Boyz'

The New York Times this morning has a story about the successful emo/electronica project called Postal Service and their relationship with… the United States Postal Service.

The legend of the project, recounted in this story, is that Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard sent tracks back and forth in the mail to make the album. Thus the name. Huge commercial success ensues.

But then apparently the USPS was like, “Yo dudes, you can’t just call yourselves Postal Service, ’cause that’s us” and Tamborello/Gibbard were like, “But we will use our indie mojo to promote the USPS,” and everything was settled.

But hold on: They sent tracks back and forth in the mail? Haven’t these dudes ever heard of a certain global web of interconnected computers? This just makes no sense:

[Tamborello] noted that the regular mail is inexpensive and easy to use, and that packages containing their working discs arrived in a couple of days, a comfortable margin for their unhurried schedule – although when finishing the album, they did use Federal Express a couple of times.

“Just to get it back and forth as quick as possible,” he said. “It saved a day.”

Yeah, you know what’s even faster than FedEx? THE INTERNET.

I mean, Postal Service’s skittery beats and mellow tones were clearly engineered on Tamborello’s Powerbook… are you telling me he couldn’t just download an FTP program and get wit’ the 21st century? AIM file transfer, anyone?

Anyway, whatever. It’s weird. I’m going to go buy some donuts now.


Now, the whole “Postal Service” using the USPS instead of the internet, even though the two clearly were comfortable with the technology, illustrates a seemingly luddite point that I’ve been making in conversation to you for years. Sometimes technology itself doesn’t solve a problem, even an interactive one–and sometimes the difference between mailing (or even e-mailing) a file to someone instead of setting up a shared FTP site is like the difference between publishing a book and letting someone read your manuscript-in-progress.

I’d imagine on a collaborative project like this, preparation and presentation were essential, and using the mail was a way for each to measure their investment in the project. If you put something on the tracks, and sent them back, then you were really involved, instead of just saying “sure, I’d love to listen to the tracks you’ve posted, and maybe I’ll give you some ideas,” and never getting back to it.

And besides, all you Amazon junkies, be it FedEx, UPS, or the USPS, who doesn’t love getting a package? 🙂

i mean, i like the postal service. i had no idea thats how they got their name, but even i could figure out how to send that stuff back and forth on the net, and i am compu-tarded.


Robin says…

You know what… Gavin, I think you have convinced me of the ridiculousness of my quibble. Convenience aside — there is a solidity and seriousness to a CD that an e-mail w/ the message “yo dude check the FTP site” just doesn’t have.

And of course you’re right: In this electronic age every scrap of non-commercial communication via real-mail is like gold.

Yeah, I love Postal Service too, Natalie. I wish Ben Gibbard would quit Death Cub for Cutie and devote his full energies to angsty pop set to wicked electro-beats.

Dear Robin

Please leave any further indie rock analysis to the pros. You obviousy are D-tarded. Death Cab 4 EVA!

Whatevs. I like DC4C as much as the next guy* but there’s a reason Postal Service is waywayway more popular. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN!

*note that this is not actually true

Arek says…

A few reasons they didn’t use the internet:

A) It didn’t fit the nostalgic feeling of the album, which had a feel for not only a deal of retro, but often almost old history, spanning back even to the original phonographs of the 1920s.

B) Tamborello already made an album with the internet feel, that was the theme of his Figurine sideproject.

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