Future collectibles: Will gaining attention by opinionating/ reporting on an item be more important than the item itself (attention vs. physical possession, or productivity vs. accumulation)? The Wired magazine is featuring a collection of postage stamps from counting on fingers, considered to be the first "computer", through Vinton Cerf inventing the Internet Protocol (Central Africa 2000) to Bill Gates Microsoft (Guinea 1998, remark: dubious value). The future of stamp collecting is contrasted with outdated computers, and the obsolete stamp collecting with the future of computers. It has triggered me to rethink how all the boxes of old collections get dustier—unless backed up with digital means. Personal musings shared with you.
Wikipedia says that the popularity of e-mail communication (let alone VoIP) is not ringing the death toll to stamp collecting as "telegraph and telephone were revolutionary alternatives to physical mail when introduced in the 19th century, yet did not spell the end of stamps on mail." The comparison is not really valid, as communicating via e-mails and over the phone have different influences on sending written messages. Written competes with written, and postage stamps, in their original function and presence in everyday life, do shrink back to the peculiar, the nostalgia. A century ago stamps were the cheap way to spark the imagination by conveying exotic times and places. Also, to give the pleasure of getting something valuable in an exchange. Although collectors may complain about the number of new stamps issued worldwide, and the difficulty to keep pace with the flood, the value factor has been seriously damaged. What is it worth getting hold of a new stamp in your topically arranged album if it was not actually used and withered?
Undigitalizable collectibles and the ideal distribution
I think, in the era of digital and manufactured collectibles, stamp collecting will at the most reach the most balanced spread among collectors in the world. And it seems to me that the web cataloguing (which precious item is held where) will only accelerate the process of a more settled allotment. This may decrease the excitement of collecting. The easier to locate needed pieces, the more conquerable and the less attractive. Secret, unknown items (as well as fake ones) will eventually come to light, and lose their magnetic force. Mind you, music, texts etc. are excluded as obviously digital items with the extra pleasure of interactive community tags, opinions.
The digitally convertible and interactive survive
Lego used to be smaller and more combinable, then it went over a phase of topical series of huge chunks demanding less imagination and freedom to put together different parts. Now it is coming out with Lego robots. The function of playing is still here. The opportunity of reaching the online backbone likewise. With stamps, there is no more function, only art for its own sake. As art, and good investment, it will survive in the long run.
For me, most conspicuously, the tendency of increased demand for 'onlineable' products can be felt when it comes to Christmas, birthday etc. presents. Or can it? I wonder how you see it: are treasured items (including future collectibles, presents etc.) becoming more and more digital as our life is getting more and more wired? What about the feeling of 'I managed to trade it', if there is less one to one exchange? Will gaining attention by opinionating/ reporting on an item be more important than the item itself (attention vs. physical possession)?