Here’s the typical course of a couple of world-changing new technologies:
Printing press. Steve Guttenberg created the moveable type press back in around 1400, shortly after the invention of beatboxing. At first it disrupted the monks' monopoly illuminated manuscripts (books with built-in reading lights), then came the pulp paperback, then comic books, and then people started typing letters to prison inmates.
Postcard. This innocent vacation staple was introduced in the 1800s. It’s a letter without an envelope which can be read by anybody as it travels from sender to recipient, and in this way was the inspiration for the inventors of email. Later, it was used to mail contest answers into Saturday morning TV shows, and in England a smutty variety emerged which is still available today. Then people started sending postcards to prison inmates.
Today, we have the iPhone. I’ll skip the last five years of its history and arrive at today. Now, people can send paper postcards to prison inmates using their iPhones.
The app is called FlikShop, and is localized into American English, German, Northern Sami and Spanish. This suggests that the vast majority of criminals of the world come from Finland, Norway and Sweden.
To use the free app, you snap a picture and add a personal message and then select the prison of your choice (or rather the prison chosen for your loved one by the state). That’s it. 99-cents and a few days later, a 600dpi (double Retina!) postcard will arrive at the jail and quickly be moved through security checks thanks to the fact that it doesn’t need to be opened. Once delivered, the postcard can be torn along a perforated line and turned into a shiv.
Kidding! The perforated line separates the photo and the message, so you can put the picture up and keep the note secret.
A quick word of advice for would-be senders. Remember not to write things like “I’m bringing 200 snouts with me next visit” or “Hope that tunnel behind your One Million Years BC poster is coming along.”
And if you don’t have an iPhone? You can sign up for an account at the FlikShop site and send postcards form there.