The Steve Jobs stamp: Commemorating the man who helped destroy the post office

By Adam L. Penenberg , written on February 21, 2014

From The News Desk

The Washington Post reports that Steve Jobs will be joining Dora the Explorer, Charlton Heston, Run DMC, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Harvey Milk, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on future commemorative postage stamps. The stamp is being designed and scheduled for release in 2015.

It's is an odd juxtaposition. One of Steve Jobs's greatest contributions was to turn computers into personal, must-have consumer products, and part of their functionality is communication. They are a main reason, although not the only, for the post office's economic woes. A 2010 report from the Boston Consulting Group predicts that the US Postal Service will see marked decline in the volume of mail and revenue in coming years, "presenting a grave threat to its viability."

The report pointed out:

First-Class Mail is succumbing to the online diversion of bills, invoices, statements, and payments. Senders are aggressively attacking the cost of paper transactions -- both for sending mail and processing responses. More Consumers will move online when key barriers, like security concerns, are removed.
Adding, "Standard Mail will also lose share to, e.g., context-based search ads and mobile ads."

The USPS commemorating Steve Jobs on a stamp would be like the ice delivery industry, which was huge in the 1920s, commemorating the inventor of the refrigerator-freezer, or, more recently, the music industry honoring Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, the creators of Napster. The Post Office might as well issue a commemorative stamp of the grim reaper.

This is not to say Steve Jobs isn't worthy. Of course he is. It's just, well, weird, that an organization whose very survival is at risk would be honoring the man who helped lead to its demise.

As Jobs said about technology:

I think it's brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I've ever seen is called television -- but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.
Because Steve Jobs was the ultimate disrupter, and the post office is just another crumbling institution vulnerable to being disrupted out of business. The personal computer is, to a large degree, why.

[Images adapted from Wikimedia]