Got, got need in a 2.0 world

2014 Panini World Cup sticker book showing the cover and a  half-filled page

Sticker albums, the currency of the playground and the reason why I know the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club badge has an owl in it.

With the World Cup looming, stickers are once again in circulation. My preschool daughter has her first album (which she’s being helped with so that the stickers are put in nice and straight!) We’ve been building up doubles, and I was thinking that a swap session at LocalGovCamp or CommsCamp could be fun. But swapsies have, of course, gone digital.

In the 2.0 world stickers have their own hashtag, the classic #gotgotneed, as well as virtual swaps sites – the online equivalent of the playground swapsies market. Has the digital revolution taken away some of the magic though?

Sticker swapping has always been a financially-savvy as well as social pastime. At my school shiny stickers were worth at least two normal ones, with entrepreneurial bidding wars erupting for the elusive sticker that everyone needed. Si Whitehouse wrote a great 2010 post about the cost of World Cup stickers which calculated that if you didn’t swap, you’d need to buy 4120 stickers, at a total cost of £412, to fill your sticker album. 

I only ever completed one album – a Care Bear one with soft-touch, rather than shiny, special stickers. The feeling of achievement on finishing the album was huge and I still have it tucked away in the attic – alongside a second album which held spare stickers I couldn’t swap. But would this happen now?

Nowadays, you don’t need to take your pile of doubles into school or an unconference, you can swap online. Sites like Last Sticker allow you to make a personal profile that details all of the stickers or trading cards you have got, got or need. It matches you up with people who have what you need, and need what you’ve got. and you then negotiate your swapsies. My husband registered on the site last night and was negotiating swaps left, right and centre-back within the hour.

Picture of Panini World Cup sticker album app in the iPhone app storeThe tech has even moved to apps, including an official Panini World Cup sticker book app where you can set up collecting leagues with friends as well as set up swaps.

Online swap sites are the logical development of the playground swap. While as a parent I appreciate this limit on monetary outlay, it feels like it’s taken some of the romance out of sticker collecting. You’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to finish your album now, and you won’t need that half-full second album.

However, where web 2.0 takes away it also gives. To really complete your album, you can now have your own sticker printed and that’s one you really #need.




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