Anyone with a grandparent knows how difficult it can be to get older people to use email, never mind something like Facebook or Twitter. That, apparently, is what inspired a company in New York to offer a service called Celery that allows US and Canadian subscribers to hand-write their messages for Internet delivery.
The name "Celery" plays off of the unrelated Latin word Celeritas, which means speed; because we bring "snail mail" up to speed.
But that sounded more like medication than an easy to use email system, so we chose "Celery" instead.
We feel that our snappy, memorable name whimsically captures the down-to-earth nature of our company.
It works like this: Grandma signs up for the service (about £9/mo.) and supplies the company with a buddy list. She needs to either have a fax machine already or buy one from the company (probably not a good idea...Celery sells "customized" Lexmark X5070 all-in-ones for about £75, while you can buy the same machine online for about half that from some retailers). She doesn't need another phone line because the fax will share the home phone.
Then, Grandma simply puts "Dear" and the name of her buddy at top of her handwritten letter and faxes the message to the company's servers. Handwriting recognition software finds the recipient's name and email address on the buddy list, scans the document and converts it to an image and sends it along. When someone replies to a Celery message, the reply shows up at Grandma's house in the form of a fax.
According to the company, Celery can be used to send regular email, tweets or Facebook status updates. The email service has been going since 2006, when it made Popular Science's Best of What's New list. The handwritten Twittering was added this summer.
Check out Granny explaining that she prefers to tweet via Celery to avoid her daughter who talks too much.
Seems like something that could work. Give Grandma a good pen (we recommend a medium-point gel to help with that spidery handwriting) and a new fax machine and turn her loose. For older people, pushing the Send button on a fax machine is probably easier than booting up a laptop and navigating to Hotmail or Yahoo. Of course, what's she going to do the first time the paper jams or when the ink cartridge in the machine needs to be replaced?
What do you think readers...a useful service or not worth the trouble?