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SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2016



Arts & Entertainment

If you think hacking is term reserved to computers, you're wrong. Hacks exist everywhere. It doesn't always imply a breach of privacy, but the best way I can put it is achieving a result that was not the original intent, OR, to achieving the intended result through unintended means. As an example, I'll refer you to Slashdot's top 25 food hacks which lists ways to chop onions without crying, make fire with a can of coke and chocolate, and more.

I recently was told of another interesting form of hacking - one which may revive the mailing industry. I'll call it Snail Mail Hacking. Harriet Russell, a student from the Glasgow School of Art, may not have came up with the hack but she certainly has become one of its best exploiters.

So what, exactly, is snail mail hacking? It's getting the mail system to deliver your mail without adhering to the standards of normal mail. One simple and known hack is to send mail to a friend without using a postage stamp. How is this done? Simply put the recipient address as the sender's address, and the sender's address as the recipient. It will then be delivered to the correct recipient with a stamp of "Insufficient postage." Nothing so special there, and nothing completely interesting, though possibly illegal.

Harriet Russell's system, however, is legal and good for a laugh. Russell includes the required postage, but doesn't include the recipient address - at least, not in the traditional way.

Her envelopes have been published in a book Envelopes: A Puzzling Journey Through the Royal Mail, and it's definitely a book worth checking out.

Rather than include the standard:

First Name Last Name,
House Number Street Name Street Type
City, State/Province, Country
Zip/Postal Code

Harriet came up with a more interesting and engaging system. One envelope includes a crossword where the answers form the address of the recipient. Another tests the color-blindness of the postal clerk. And impressively, only 10 out of her 130 letters lost their way through the system - some of which couldn't be delivered because they lacked a postal code. Even more impressively, the 120 that were delivered arrived within the standard delivery time.



How clever.
+ Daily post has been around London since Victorian times, so clearly they've got it down.

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