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Codebreaker

Snail mail gets interactive

Julia Barton Sep 7, 2010

British stamp enthusiasts should be lining up with their smart phones at Royal Mail post offices by now. The nearly 500-year-old Royal Mail is the first post office to embed a readable code into one of its stamps. Of course, post offices have been using bar codes and more sophisticated data-matrix codes to help them deliver the mail for years, but no one has linked them to online content via smart phones. Til now.

Once you download the right app, you point your phone’s camera at the stamp to see, among other things, a video of actor Bernard Cribbins reading W.H. Auden’s poem “The Night Mail.” It’s full-circle for the poem, since Auden wrote it in 1936 for this short film produced by the Royal Mail. We found it via an old-fashioned process called clicking around YouTube.

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