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The Meaning of Paper in Postcard Form in this Digital Age

The postcard depicting a lake and snow-covered mountains finally arrived, after three months of traveling, from Nepal to my house, in the east of the island of Java. A series of beautiful sentences written by my friend when he was in Nepal decorated the back of the card. He told of the beauty of the snow-covered mountains, and an invitation to join him on the next trip.

While on the other side of the letter, a charming photo, describes the beautiful scenery at my friend's place. There is a difference from messages sent via postcards. Even though we interact almost every day via sms, whatsapp, or instagram, the messages neatly written on a rectangular piece of paper feel special and memorable.

The card we've been waiting for turns out to be a lot of stories. Not only about the beautiful panorama in Nepal, but also about the journey of a piece of paper through various places. The postcard from Nepal had the wrong address and ended up in Taipei. There is a stamp that says miss sent on the card before it finally arrives at the destination address. Pictured in my mind, a letter without a cover that has traveled across the borders of a number of countries. There is a lot of human labor that goes into making sure that the postcards arrive at their destination.

Collecting memories and history via postcards

My friends use postcards as souvenirs or souvenirs because their destination is not an ordinary place that is easy and frequent to visit. I also want to repay that friendly attitude. Since I was in Yogyakarya, I then looked for various postcards at the zero kilometer book kiosk in Yogyakarta. It is located close to the Yogyakarta Post Office.

There, various postcards were displayed by the kiosk sellers. The buyers, according to the postcard seller, are mostly foreign tourists visiting Yogyakarta. For some reason, even though postcards are also sold in major bookstores and post offices, I prefer to go to the bookstore at Zero kilometer and pick a few of the cards on display there.

I then chose three postcards with pictures of Rafflesia Arnoldii flowers, ogoh-ogoh which are often used in religious rituals in Bali, and photos of Borobudur Temple with a sunset background with a charming orange tinge. Even though they are Indonesian, I hope that postcards from their homeland will be memorable when they are received overseas.

The function of postcards as gifts or souvenirs seems to have been practiced by my ancestors in the past. At least, according to an article written by Bjarne Rogan, this practice has been increasingly prevalent since the early 20th century, when the two-sided postcard design as it is today became common in Western countries. Postcards with pictures of various activities of local residents, iconic local buildings and natural scenery adorn the picture sides of the postcards.

The development of industry and printing technology supported the development of postcards to achieve the design it is today. Not infrequently photos or pictures of world famous artists and figures also appear on postcards. The beauty of photography or the printed images used, makes a piece of paper have more meaning for souvenirs as well as objects that can be collected because of the meaning of messages and memories recorded in pictures and writings.

In today's era, postcards are also used as an alternative to replace Eid, Christmas or New Year's greeting cards. Users range from large companies, to individuals. Postcards are designed thematically following certain events. Homemade postcards are also common. The presence of a postcard seemed to replace a handshake, personal even without being wrapped in an envelope. A feeling that may not be obtained when sending similar writings via email or various other media using the internet or telephone.

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