Monday, 12 May 2008

Forms of address

To pick up on Rob Waller’s note about endless addresses, the official address of the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at Reading used to puzzle me. Here it is:

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
University of Reading
2 Earley Gate
Whiteknights
PO Box 239
Reading
RG6 6AU

Then it occurred to me that the reason for the multiple layers was that this was a portmanteau address, interlarding different user needs. This is what a human visitor needs to find the Department:

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
University of Reading
2 Earley Gate
Whiteknights
Reading

This is all the Post Office needs to deliver mail:

PO Box 239
RG6 6AU

To complicate it a little, this is what the University postal service subsequently needs to get the letter to exactly the right place:

Department of Typography & Graphic Communication

So the official address is a kludge: no-one needs all the information, but each bit of it is used by somebody. But there’s a user who isn’t currently catered for: the SatNav-guided driver who, if they tap in RG6 6AU, will shortly find themselves driving into Reading’s main postal sorting office. What they need is probably

SatNav: RG6 2AU

– would you like to try it and see?

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