In Philip K. Dick's story Minority Report and the film made from it starring Tom Cruise, billboards that call out one's name - literally - make me think of stamps that seem to call to collectors. Of course, it is that sort of technology that produces targeted ads like those on Facebook that are aware of your buying habits and lifestyle, that will ultimately do away with stamps. After, all when we can program bar codes of our possessions into our computers (never lose your keys again!; hit Control/Alt/BS to find your blue socks!) why should we bother with those old time wasters, stamps.
It wouldn't be such a terrible thing would it? We could now concentrate on older classic stamps. You know, the stamps that postal administrations put out before today's stamps that look like stickers that go into a child's album with places for glittery unicorns and cute little ponies with pink manes.
And if we're not collecting those sticker stamps (a sort of stamp that has single-handedly driven more collectors from the hobby than any others), we're putting photostamps with pictures of Uncle Bob and baby Seymour into our collections. When such things are all that's coming in on our mail, the possibility of collecting a meaningful collection of used stamps is slight, at best.
Stuck With Sticker Stamps
If one wishes to consider the bottom line, it would seem that the mixtures and kiloware are going to be more expensive than ever. Why? Consider the extra weight of sticker stamps, in comparison to the water activated (i.e., your saliva) stamps. Multiply that minor weight by hundreds of thousands and you've got a lot of extra weight adding up to an added shipping expense to ship such mixtures.
The self-adhesives are great for mailers: somehow easier to deal with than moisture activated stamps -- and don't forget that one of the things that pushed these stamps into wide acceptance as they were being perfected in the 80's was a growing fear of aids and the potential threat it was through that licking a stamp had become.
The self-adhesives seen absurd from a collector point of view. Some collectors believe that the only bright spot contained in their existence is that they probably won't be around for long. But the argument of new technology destroying old forms has been around since movie makers feared the death of their medium with the advent of television. They both continued to exist in conjunction with each other. Things don't look as good for stamps and new modes of communication.
Can Gimmicks Save Stamps?
So what is it that will attract new collectors to stamp collecting? Good question. There have been a number of gimmicks attempted from stamps shaped like the country of issuance to stamps featuring fruit, with banana shaped stamps stamps, etc. There have been stamps that smell like cake and candy, and stamps, which when uploaded to the Internet produce a hologram. Gimmicks all, as they were all one-shots and are not part of the production of any ongoing series of stamps.
So then, yes, self-sticks is are indeed turning disapproving collectors are back to classic stamps; those of earlier years, produced with attractive engraving, whose topics were something with more gravitas than cartoon characters.
Giving Up Stamps to Keep Them
Stamps of the future will have more capability to identify the mailer. Now, self-printed stamps have codes that can be read to lead those with readers directly back to the mailer. With ever increasing interest in security such postage will become par for the course. It will be some time before paper stamps are a thing of the past, but eventually mail will have little or none of the colorful stickers sold to collectors. A study of postal history will include bar coded stamp with enough information on them to include the sender's return address on digital paper.
Meanwhile, those who collector paper stamps will have to face the fact that the classic stamp album will not be enough to protect paper that is hundreds of years old and most valuable classic stamps will be encased to keep them away from the harmful effects of climate and air full of pollutants and impurities. Collectors will have their stamps a degree of separation away from them, if they want to keep them.