“You’ve Got Mail!” is the title of a 1998 movie that highlighted our enduring fascination with near-instant connection. We can hardly imagine what life would be like without it now.
Moving image archives still live with both kinds of mail. Email plus what we now lovingly refer to as snail mail. If a film has to go somewhere in a can, it’s going on a truck at the speed of roads. The conversation about that same film goes at the speed of radio.
What if that truck brought you a film inspection system in a box? What we used to call mail order. Open the box, set the device near the films, run the films at their favorite frames per second and do everything else electronically at the speed of radio.
Truck drivers and shipping companies might prefer the old way, the snail mail way. Ship the films to a device where they can be seen. Then wait for the trucks to bring something back.
Archival films don’t really want to spend their time on a truck anyway. Let’s bring back snail mail with a modern twist. The film inspection bench that you can get by mail order anywhere in the world. Like we used to buy film projectors by mail order 📩.
Let’s leave the films safe in their cans on their shelves. Truck the film inspection bench to the films and set it up on the closest table. Send the results around electronically at the speed of radio.