NRI Papers
No.55   September 1, 2002
  Social Experiments Involving the POSTUB Electronic Post  
Takashi SASAKI
        POSTUB stands for Post Service in the Ubiquitous Network Age, and refers to an electronic mailbox (reception box) to receive messages on a secure basis at any time, anywhere and in any format. Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. (NRI) carried out social experiments involving POSTUB applications over three months from January through March 2002 with the participation of the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT), some ten private companies and about 8,000 individuals. The three major trends that could be seen as environmental changes relating to messaging included: a shift from "messages addressed to many and unspecified persons" to "messages addressed to many and specified persons" ; increase in number of chance to spread information by citizens themselves; and availability of various messaging media. These major changes are expected to give a rise to major issues relating to security, the digital divide (information gap), and address management in the future. A hypothesis concerning an electronic post as part of the social infrastructure was established as a means of resolving these three issues, and electronic post service was implemented on a trial basis to verify this hypothesis during these social experiments. While the results showed that this mechanism may be able to resolve many elements related to these three problems, it was also revealed that three important tasks concerning the development of the social infrastructural aspects, public education and technological progress remain to be resolved in order to actually construct and use an electronic post in the future. Addressing these tasks requires continued activities to construct POSTUB as part of the social infrastructure through the joint efforts of the government and the private sector, as the establishment of POSTUB infrastructure will accelerate the promotion of the "e-Japan strategy" and lead to the improvement of the international competitiveness of Japanese companies in the IT (information technology) field through the development of a ubiquitous network society.
Contents
I Environmental Changes in Messaging and Three Issues
1 The Definition of Messaging
2 Three Environmental Changes Surrounding Messaging
3 Overseas Trends in Messaging Services New Infrastructure Needed
II Social Experiments Based on Electronic Post Hypothesis
1 Hypothesis on Electronic Post (POSTUB)
2 Targets of Social Experiments
III Verifying Hypothesis and Confirming Needs by Social Experiments
1 Social Experiments with Approximately 8,000 Monitors
2 Evaluation by Sender Companies
3 Evaluation by Sender Consumers
4 Outcome of Social Experiments Approached the Essence of Electronic Post Service
IV Future of POSTUB Messaging Infrastructure
1 Three New Tasks
2 Future Concept of POSTUB

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