| About |

'Slow Mail' combines the dual frontiers of California: the romantic western pre-railroad era and the pioneering early days of the internet (ARPANET).  Pack trains relays composed of amateur and professional horsepacking enthusiasts convey and deliver physical letters between Menlo Park and Los Angeles, the points between which the first message was sent over ARPANET. The riders form a relay along the coast with each group riding for two to four days before handing off their mail bags; this mirrors the digital relay that computers use to get emails to their destination.

Before the railroad united the ranches and Missions of what was then known as Alta California, it was indeed a wild and woolly place in a constant stage of self-definition. Similarly, inventions in the late 1960s that allowed different computers to communicate with each other over great distances created a new virtual territory to be settled. Each Slow Mail rider, letter writer, and recipient join the pioneers of ARPAnet to tell the evolving story of our mediated communication and the future of letter writing through participation in a physical journey along the back trails of California.

For the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, the Slow Mail Pilot Ride covered the first leg of this journey, delivering letters between Menlo Park and San Jose. In the month leading up to the event, participants were be able to submit letters addressed to anyone in San Jose (or Biennial attendees) through the project website sslow.net. These letters were printed and carried on horseback, leaving from Menlo Park on September 12th and arriving in downtown San Jose on September 15th where the letters were distributed through a Mail Call event.