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Business Cards the Latest Internet Casualty

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the oh-my-god-it-even-has-a-watermark dept.

Businesses 243

Hugh Pickens writes "Chalk up another looming casualty of the Internet age: business cards. Ubiquitous as pinstripes, the 2-by-3.5-inch pieces of card stock have long been a staple in executive briefcases. But now, writes Matt Stevens, young and Web-savvy people who are accustomed to connecting digitally, see business cards as irrelevant, wasteful — and just plain lame. 'When I go into a meeting and there are five bankers across the table, they all hand me business cards and they all end up in a pile, in a shoe box somewhere,' says Diego Berdakin, the founder of BeachMint, a fast-growing e-commerce site that has raised $75 million from investors without ever bothering to print a card. 'If someone comes in to meet me, we've already been connected through email, so it really doesn't feel like a necessity in my life.' Some 77 million smartphone users have downloaded the Bump app, which allows them to bump their phones together and instantly exchange contact information. Others carry a personalized quick-response code that smartphones can scan like a hyperlink. At 36, Ralph Barbagallo is near the cutoff for Generation Y but despises business cards all the same. Barbagallo says he goes to three major conferences a year and has to distribute paper cards, but lugging and exchanging fistfuls of them is a pain and it's hard to remember who is who. 'When they run out this time, I'm not printing any more,' says Barbagallo. 'They need to die somehow.'"

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The Answer (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39388991)

QR Code containing VCard on the back. Tada, became relevant and useful again.

Re:The Answer (3)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389033)

I'd prefer a no-paper solution. Like a standard/protocol to exchange that information between cell phones (e.g. a working Bump).

Re:The Answer (4, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389467)

Japan has had this for years (as they have with QR codes, which we're just getting around to now). Phones have an IR port - you just touch the ports to one another and it exchanges contact information.

I swear, the fastest way to become rich in America with cell phones is to go look at what Japan is doing today and shamelessly copy it as fast as possible.

Also of note on things we can't quite do yet: paying for train/bus fare and using it like an RFID credit card.

Re:The Answer (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389527)

Been there, done that. Remember the Palms, Visors, HP whatevers and the original PDAs? All with IR ports. Wonderful things they were.

Could output to a printer. Made a wonderful TV remote. You could program it with a secret code to have the UN's black helicopters home in on it.

We've lost so many things. So many things.

Re:The Answer (4, Insightful)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389059)

QR Code containing VCard on the back. Tada, became relevant and useful again.

I couldn't agree more. Anyway I don't think it's the card itself that is obsolete, but the practice of throwing useless cards around like confetti. I have no idea how many useless cards I have already thrown away, but sometimes they come in useful. But usually only if I wanted the info in the first place.

Re:The Answer (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389321)

These solutions, like the article itself, will go over BIG in Japan.

Not really.

The card-ritual is as important and formalised as teh flippin' tea-ceremony.

Re:The Answer (1)

aktiveradio (851043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389699)

This is how my company does the business cards. OR code on the back of each card.

Re:The Answer (4, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389811)

That's what I do. I have a fairly traditional (if not stylish) double-sided card. One side has the logo and slogan, the other has basic contact information and a QR code. The thing is, business cards are just another form of advertising. They're not necessarily about "making a connect", they're about canvasing. Furthermore, the get passed around to new people. I redesign my cards just a bit about every year when I need more printed. Because of this I can tell how long any particular card has been around. Parents pass cards onto their kids, friends to each other, etc. Some of my cards have been in circulation for years, and I get new business because of it. Anyone who is writing off business cards as a bygone antiquity just doesn't understand marketing... then again, most of these "web-savy" kids don't. Not everyone has a smart phone, after all.

I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389029)

I want to set up a business card with one of those digicodes on the back that can be scanned by a smartphone, such as appear on YouTube VEVO broadcasts.

Realistically, business cards are for giving people your contact info, and nothing more. I never give business cards to people who already have my contact info, but they're invaluable for shows and conferences where they don't have your contact info.

Plus they're handy for dropping in to those "win a meal" restaurant promotion draws. :)

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389091)


Plus they're handy for dropping in to those "win a meal" restaurant promotion draws. :)

You know what they do with your card after the promotion is over, right?

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389121)

You never win meals. They just keep the cards for future advertising.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389213)

And coupons!


Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (4, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389393)

Gee, I guess the burgers and stuff I've eaten over the years were a figment of my imagination.

I don't win often, but I do win.

And I've never found myself put on a spam list or otherwise had my contact info abused for doing so.

Unlike web companies, brick and mortar businesses like restaurants still give a damn about their customers.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (5, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389289)

I want to set up a business card with one of those digicodes on the back that can be scanned by a smartphone, such as appear on YouTube VEVO broadcasts.

Realistically, business cards are for giving people your contact info, and nothing more. I never give business cards to people who already have my contact info, but they're invaluable for shows and conferences where they don't have your contact info.

Plus they're handy for dropping in to those "win a meal" restaurant promotion draws. :)

Business cards are about as useful as books or magazines: they're instantly available, need no electricity, can be passed from person to person, etc. You can run into someone in an elevator and during your 20 second pitch hand them a card. Not everyone's going to say "Oh let me get out my smartphone and start the QR code app and scan the QR code, etc". Maybe they don't have time for you. Maybe they're already using their phone (very likely). Maybe they only half heard you because they have something else on their mind. Whatever the reason, business cards are useful.

I still have IT internet-savvy entrepreneur .com types ask for business cards. They're not dead.

Usually I hang on to cards I'm handed until I have a few seconds to scan the QR code. If there isn't a code I take a photo of the card with the smartphone and toss the card.

But thank you for this article, reminded me I should see if there's "an app for that", some sort of app that can scan a business card and add them to my contacts. Quick google search lead me to this page with the top 10 iPhone business card scanning apps available. [] I'll try some of the free versions and see which works best.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389411)

Not everyone's going to say "Oh let me get out my smartphone and start the QR code app and scan the QR code, etc"

Precisely why I want to have the QR code printed on the back of a business card I can hand out. They'll have the text version for the 90% of the population that doesn't know what the interesting pattern of dots on the back is for in the first place. :)

I don't expect this "bump" capability someone mentioned to be any more useful than the Palm Pilot's ability to beam your contact info via IR was. Even though I had my PP for years and there were many people I ran into who had one as well, I can only recall beaming my contact info twice. It was a neat idea, but a pain in the ass in practice -- it was just far quicker and easier to hand someone a card than to pull out a compatible device to beam with.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389323)

So... why don't you just go generate a vCard QR code (type "QR Code Generator" into your favorite search engine) and then have that added to your business cards?

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389473)

Well, yeah, that was kind of the plan.

I didn't say it was hard to do or even a novel idea. Just saying it's what I plan to do with my cards.

I've never gone to a printing company without my own design and layout for business cards. Why would I want to use one of the "stock" layouts and look like everyone else? If your card doesn't stand out for any reason, it just disappears in the pile.

The most unique card I've ever seen was from a fellow who worked in the custom metal and steel forming industry. The used their own stamps and laser etching equipment to print thin steel business cards a little thicker than the typical razor blade. Now those stood out in a stack. Not sure what happened to mine -- I hung on to the one he gave me for years, just because it was so different.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389537)

Oh sorry, you just sounded a bit clueless... my mistake :D

I've also started keeping a shortcut to a QR Code (saved as an image file) on my Nexus - when someone with a smartphone asks for my info, I can pull it up right from my lock screen with a single tap (takes about a second - literally)... then they can scan it directly off my phone's display - that keeps the amount of scanned-once-thrown-away business cards low. Just in case you're looking for more ideas ;)

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389791)

Why not go a step further and just embed your QR code into your screen wallpaper? Even works for those non-smart "feature phones".

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389817)

Okay, now I'm the clueless one... how exactly do feature phones read QR codes?

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389627)

Remember if you generate your QR code with high enough redundancy, you can destroy an amount of the center of it to embed a logo or such, while leaving the QR readable.

Also, it only cares about contrast differences between dot and no-dot, so you can play with colors too.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389825)

Yes, make the code harder to scan. That really helps make it more convenient.

What one should really do is figure out a way to make a code with as few modules (pixels) as possible (use L redundancy and the most efficient encoding), make the contrast as high as possible (i.e. black on white) and leave the required four modules wide white border around the code. The last bit is actually quite important because scanners have a much harder time scanning codes without the "quiet" zone. And print the code big enough. 1 mm^2 modules are a good target size, which means a version 6 code with L redundancy is the highest capacity code before you have to compromise on the size and/or the quiet zone. That gives you 134 bytes of data, which is a tight budget for a VCard.

Re:I want cards with those scanner codes embedded (1)

number6 (38954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389497)

Our business cards have a QR code on the back. If you want an old style business card, we can give you one. If you want to just stick our contact details into your phone, then just turn the card over and scan the code. I could also display the QR code on my phone, but I'd rather pass a bit of disposable cardboard around a group of strangers than my phone.

I'm also bad at remembering names and faces, so if I've just been given some cards at the start of a meeting, I can drop them in front of me and glance at them to recall who is who.

Only people who are full of shit use them. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389035)

Business cards, just like business suits, have no real purpose other than to make "executives", "managers" and "professionals" feel important, and to make them think that other people consider them important.

If you're of any value to me, I don't need your fucking business card. I'll already know how to get in touch with you, or I'll be able to find out very easily using other means.

When somebody gives me a business card, I know they're full of shit. When that person is wearing a suit, I know they're doubly full of shit. Real people getting real work done don't go handing out business cards. They're too fucking busy doing real work!

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389141)

What about people posting on slashdot? It's awesome how many people work so hard these days, so, where is the result of all this work? Why do we need to work so much?

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389649)

What about people posting on slashdot?

slashdotters are the biggest bullshitters around. Take a look at the posts of {latest outrage posted today} and all the posters telling others what the *right* thing to do is.. always based on unrealistic ideals, and never what the poster would actually do if they were in that situation.

It's awesome how many people work so hard these days, so, where is the result of all this work?

You're asking slashdotters where the result of their hard work has gone???? I believe it would be *this site*.

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (1, Interesting)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389287)

Geez.. I wish you hadn't posted this as AC.. I'd LOVE to know who has the SAME idea about these two abortions.. One, a suit, which is, howEVER you look at it, a uniform... I HATE uniforms.. After doing time in the US Army, I doubly HATE uniforms. And that demon-spawn from Hades, the tie.. Designed from the get-go to choke the living shit out of everybody who has the misfortune to work where they mandate them. Fortuantly, the tide seems to be turning away somewhat from them. I get a good laugh to see TSA bozos (and others) who wear those absolutely hilarious clipon ties. I'm the IT manager in a new startup, and the management team, being that is mostly people like me, who despise suits/ties, has ruled that our office wear will always be "business-casual", ie: polo-shirt/khakis. We REALLY hate suits/ties! In fact, when we schedule interviews (we're going to be hiring a fair amount soon), the interviewee will be strongly advised about "business-casual" dress for the interview.
Since we're a startup, a discussion about stationary/business cards was held the other day, and the concensus on business cards was "waste of $$$"...

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389509)

When everyone around me is wearing polo and khakis, wearing a suit breaks their uniformity, although I still go without the necktie.

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389529)

I'm not the original AC, but i also agree with you whole heartedly about suits and ties... I detest wearing a suit and/or tie, and find it utterly ridiculous that people have some kind of perception that someone wearing a suit is somehow going to do their job better than someone who isn't.

In many cases, the opposite is true... Personally i find such clothing extremely uncomfortable, and will be spending more time thinking about how uncomfortable i am and watching the clock so i can get into some more sensible clothes, whereas if i was dressed comfortably i could concentrate more thoroughly on the work at hand. I've also found that people who aren't very good tend to wear a suit to try and hide their deficiencies, while those who are confidant in their abilities don't feel the need to dress in any particular way.

Business cards i think are just obsolete, they served a purpose once but have been superseded by modern technology. Suits and ties never served any useful purpose whatsoever.

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (1)

TCPhotography (1245814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389799)

If you find a suit uncomfortable, then you need a better suit - or you need to stop buying off the rack. I'm a poor college student, but one of the new articles of clothing in my closet is a tailored suit, and it fits like a dream.

Plus there is just something about getting dressed up and taking your girlfriend to the Philharmonic/Ballet/Opera that is just plain *fun* (yes, after the event is more fun, but getting the evening off to a good start is fun too).

suits and ties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389763)

while I agree that no tie is comfortable, if you find suits uncomfortable then you aren't wearing a well made and properly tailored suit. a good suit can feel like wearing your comfiest flannel pajamas.

disclaimer: I speak only of men's suits; no woman's suit will ever be that comfortable.

Re:Only people who are full of shit use them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389369)

If you're of any value to me, I don't need your fucking business card.

Great. We've established that born-loser rednecks don't need business cards. Glad to hear it.

Meanwhile, in the real world...

Disagree completely (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389055)

Although I love the idea of getting rid of paper as much as possible and attempt to employ that in my life where possible... there's nothing more annoying than if you're focusing on meeting someone for the first time, establishing a relationship and you have to say "Oh let me get my phone out, here, can you spell your email address for me? How do you spell your last name? Was that a B or a D you just said?"

I hand you my business card, you can clearly see how my name is spelled and can match it up to what I just told you. Visual cue along with audio cue. Then you have their email address and phone number and can take that back to your office and put that into a contact book on your computer, then toss the card. Not to mention you can make notes on their business cards without having to "boot up" any device.

Now, there might be something to be said for having some kind of "automatic business card exchange" application on phones, where you could pull out your phones and "bump" them with someone else's to get their info or whatnot, but honestly I'd still rather just hand the card over and maintain eye contact.

In a typical interpersonal business exchange, what people take away from the meeting is roughly a 70/20/10 split between body language/tone of voice/actual words spoken.

Re:Disagree completely (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389371)

Agree, I find then really useful as well and it still has a professional vibe around them. Asking for an email is clumsier and informal, I want to make a good first impression, which I don't think you can do with the 'newer' method.

Re:Disagree completely (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389389)

Absolutely. Also it's like a neck tie. Many people in many situations and many industries may not need them. But if you're in an industry or situation where it's expected, people won't take you seriously if you don't have one. If you are self employed or work in anything connected with sales, you'd be mad not to have them. If you lose a single job or sale because someone didn't take you seriously, you've lost more than the cost of printing a batch. And it's not as if carrying a few in your wallet is any hardship.

Personally I don't have them and don't need them, but they are essential for some people.

Re:Disagree completely (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389617)

The problem is that anyone is still small minded enough to not take someone seriously simply because they aren't wearing what they perceive to be the correct uniform. These preconceptions need to die a horrible death, someone's clothing has no impact on their ability to do a particular job and people should be free to wear whatever clothing is most comfortable for them.
(wearing a suit is horrendously uncomfortable, and wastefully expensive... in the summer when the subways are blisteringly hot you arrive at work all sweaty, and have to spend a fortune in dry cleaning to keep cleaning your suits).

Re:Disagree completely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389475)

I agree ... I hate this so much

I use the 5$ vista print cards with just my name phone and email address to hand to someone that needs it ...
this is by far the MOST efficient method of distribution contact information. Phones are clunky and a pita and if there is any amount of noise in the area it can often be difficult to understand what the other person is saying..

When it comes to spelling, OMG, people assume you can spell what ever they rattle off in 5 seconds as a email address.

With a business card I KNOW they have the phone number and email address right.

Re:Disagree completely (4, Interesting)

onepoint (301486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389639)

Most people don't understand the aspect of the business card as a form of personally identifying yourself to the other party. In my work ( real estate ) I have flexibility of my card design plus look and feel. I spent a very long time coming up with the right tactile feel that I wanted, the right font, and the right colors. it's part of the impression I want to make.

A girl that I met recently was along the same lines, she was a graphic designer and had the most amazing card, it spoke a story of her skills and it only had her email address and name.

that's why you want to spend time thinking about your card, it should speak a story about you. For example: if you are a coder, and you grok python, I would put some interesting code on my card ( bucket sort maybe or something that only another serious coder would note ).

my card is simple: it's a 100% cotton bond, with watermark with my family crest, it has some cobalt blue outlines, with some forest green. my name, phone number, email and business name. Simple but elegant

Eggshell white, raised lettering (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389061)

Anytime someone mentions business cards I always think of the scene in american psycho.

"oh my god, it even has a watermark."

Re:Eggshell white, raised lettering (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389205)

Anytime someone mentions business cards I always think of the scene in american psycho.

"oh my god, it even has a watermark."

Thank you for sharing this wonderful gem.

Somebody's bitter about business cards today :) (5, Insightful)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389067)

not knowing who is who is not specific to business cards... if you are not careful about who you add on your social network, you end up with a collection of contacts you have no idea why you have them.

business cards are relevant if you handle them properly.. if you can not remember who is who, put more info about the person on the business card or when you enter them into whatever software you use for contacts. Software exists to automate scanning business cards too.

if you are not printing business cards, imho, it is a mistake. not only some people are not computer savvy but it looks good when you have one.

Saying business cards need to die reminds me of how 20 years ago I read articles about how paper would die by year 2000 because of computer exchanges... a lot of bla bla... but business as usual

Re:Somebody's bitter about business cards today :) (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389123)

Saying business cards need to die reminds me of how 20 years ago I read articles about how paper would die by year 2000 because of computer exchange

If anything, computers made the creation of paper easy, and the amount of dead tree flung across an office has only exploded since then.


Re:Somebody's bitter about business cards today :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389273)

Paper is not made from trees, you idiot.

Re:Somebody's bitter about business cards today :) (1)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389353)

[Citation needed]

Re:Somebody's bitter about business cards today :) (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389561)

[Citation needed]

Look at your desk. If you can find it.

Then look at the recycle bin.

People are still happy to get them ... (3, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389069)

It may be a social nicety, but people seem to be happy to get my business card and I find that people are more likely to follow up. I suspect that the latter is because they are less likely to lose contact information when it comes in a physical form.

Of course there will be some naysayers. There always have been. But I suspect that those people never really followed up on initial meeting anyway.

Re:People are still happy to get them ... (3, Informative)

penix1 (722987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389127)

This all seems silly. If you don't want a business card, then don't take it or be polite and take it then dump it in the nearest circular file. That is far easier then having to weed out unwanted crap from an electronic device. Also, some cultures (Japan I am talking about you) routinely hand out business cards as part of their culture. So if you travel to one of these countries you will wind up with hundreds of really unwanted stuff to delete out of your device.

Internet also lowered cost of business cards (4, Insightful)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389073)

The reports of the death of business cards may be exaggerated. The cost and production of the cards is lower then ever, via online printers. And the evidence presented here of their death - that a young guy thinks that bankers passing them are "lame" - is not indicative of the success of the non-business-card holder. Another trend hyperbolically expressed as an inevitable outcome on /.

in other one gives a shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389083)

Boo hoo, you have to carry them. Not everyone has a super awesome phone to "bump" with or really gives a shit that you're tired of carrying cards. I want a quick, easy, simple and FOOLPROOF way to get my info out or receive someone elses. Technology can try. Business cards are where its at.

Less personal and tangable (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389087)

Just using your phone to exchange data makes the entire meeting less tangible and more impersonal.

Same thing for all these 'on line meetings' where you never even see the persons face who is talking.. all you get is a poor quality voice and some video of their desktop.

Handing out a physical object to quantify the event like a card, and actual human interaction in business ( and personal life ) by actually meeting the person. should not be discounted so easily.

or is this the world we want to create, where no one actually interacts anymore and everyone just hides in their cubicle. Just a sad representation of the real world, all vitalized for you in that little box you call a computer.

Every time I get a business card... (4, Funny)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389103)

Every time I get a business card I start quoting the American Psycho business card [] scene.

"Wow, nice card buddy, it looks similar to mine. Just without the Cillian Braille font."

I've actually had a few people catch on to it. :)

Business cards aren't going anywhere (4, Insightful)

silverhalide (584408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389105)

When you are in a situation where you are meeting lots of folks quickly, nothing beats handing over a business card. It is a minimal conversation disruption. Ever tried to use the bump app in a crowded convention center? Spotty cell service, finding the damn icon, or your battery is dead... It just doesn't work well enough to replace tried and true paper for casual information exchange. The interruption completely derails a casual conversation. In an environment where you only have a few minutes to chat, it's not worth it.

Now it would be nice if QR embedded codes were standard on business cards to trivialize data entry.

Nope, business cards are here to stay. Folks that don't do serious business level interactions might be able to lose them, but the pros will use them for a while to come until the exchange becomes easier.

I respectfully disagree. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389109)

For many people, handing out a business card is much quicker than using something like Bump. They also add a layer of expression and professionalism that is easily lost with other mediums. There are people who charge companies a bunch of money per hour just for customising cards, and for good reason; some companies get hoardes of new business just from their cards alone.

I'm not giving up my cards anytime soon. Actually, I need to refresh my design soon! (I take pics of all the cards I get and store them in Evernote; no more mountains of cards or clouding up my address book.)

Cocktail napkins work just as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389115)

I usually go home from trade shows with about four of them stuffed in my trousers pockets with people's contact info.

If those aren't handy, you can use the expo program books. Find the page where they present the logos of the "platinum" and "gold" sponsors (i.e., the ones that have the biggest booths) and there's usually plenty of whitespace in between for you to scribble your cell # and email address.

Cards are not just for Personal Contact (3, Interesting)

joelsherrill (132624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389117)

Cards do have issues but it is because you have to remember who gave it to you and why. But that applies to electronic solutions as well. In the 80s, I did some work for Kodak and all of the people I dealt with had cards with a head shot on them. It was very useful for remembering them. I have never seen anyone else who did that. I am from RTEMS and we printed a box of cards with project contact information and a QR-code. I can give them out at shows, to students, etc. and people have a small reminder of how to find out more. More like a tiny cheap brochure for a free software project. Cards have a real place but they have limitations. If you NEVER meet someone cold, then you probably don't need them. But if you do, you need them. And don't forget the personal calling card. Maybe it is her southern manners, but my wife has a personal calling card which is very nice in personal situations. It was very useful when dealing with parents of our kids. They got contact info with no electronics or need for pen and paper involved

Re:Cards are not just for Personal Contact (2)

Orne (144925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389259)

If they only had some kind of information on the card to tell you who gave it to you, like a name...

Re:Cards are not just for Personal Contact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389553)

Some of us really suck at remembering faces and names. Having both a picture and a name would help a lot.

Cell Phones can all send Information (1)

X!0mbarg (470366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389125)

Most folks have this feature in their phone: to send Contact info to another phone on-demand.
Presto! a New e-card! Just have your cell phone configured to send out a "Blip Exchange" via bluetooth in a short range burst, and all such info has been exchanged! No more dead-tree business cards to dispose of (or pick you teeth with after a big meal)!

Maybe the cellphone manufacturers can get together (snerk) and come up with something universal to allow for such 'Business Info Exchanges'?

Value in the eye of the beholder (4, Interesting)

mnmlst (599134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389139)

We live in economic exchange-based societies. While you may not value a business card that is handed to you in one of these exchanges, the other person may greatly value it. Even in Westernized Japan, the exchange of business cards is an important ritual and you would be seen as frivolous and irrelevant if you could not offer one. Personally, I like business cards because I tend to pause and write down some key facts about the person on the back of their card if I found them interesting. Another advantage of paper cards is they can exchanged quickly without as much fumbling as is often involved with electronic devices. Let's be honest, how many times have we spent five minutes doing something with an electronic device that we could have done in less than a minute using other tools at hand? Every tool has some associated overhead and while electronics are generally best for handling information, they have their limitations too.

The bottom line is that if you are trying to provide yourself with every edge to beat the competition, it would be stupid to stop handing out professional-looking, calling cards. Besides, the vast majority of people who dislike business cards and will shun you for handing them around are probably too young to have much money or power. In another 20 years, you may need to be a lot more careful about handing out paper cards. Obviously, it would be best to just ask someone if they prefer a quick email with a vcard or a paper card or both. Personally, I would like both.

Don't try the omission in China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389153)

And you'd better take the other guy's card with two hands, and study it respectfully, if you want to seem civilized.

Cue Mark Twain (1)

confuscan (2541066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389175)

I'm imagining a talking business card (Hal Holbrook voice of course) simply stating "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Business Cards and Calling Cards (4, Informative)

DERoss (1919496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389195)

One important use for business cards is during job interviews. The candidate should always ask the interviewer for his or her card rather than spend time writing down contact information or using a smart phone. (While the interviewer might have to take a phone call that interrupts the interview, it is very counter-productive for the candidate to use a phone then.) After the interview, the candidate can then send a "thank you" to the interviewer, either E-mail or postal mail. No matter how negative the interview might have seemed, the message should be positive (unless you are truly positive you would NEVER work for that person no matter where he or she might be in the future). In this case, the business card also helps to build a history of your job-search activity, which might be important if you are collecting unemployment benefits.

Very much similar to a business card is a calling card. The difference is that a calling card does not indicate any employment. Yes, the concept is very 19th century but still useful in the 21st century. I use a calling card when shopping if a special order has to be placed. It provides a sales clerk with my contact information so they do not record my name as Roth or Roff instead of Ross; often, the clerk will merely staple my calling card to the order form instead of writing the contact information. As a docent at a public garden, I sometimes give visitors my calling card if they express an interest in contacting me about certain plants or gardening techniques; it has my E-mail address and my Web site's URI (17 Web pages of garden information, not counting my garden diary).

Re:Business Cards and Calling Cards (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389247)

In the real world nobody uses bump. Sounds great and I used to attempt it but would almost.always end up having to troubleshoot the other persons configuration, bluetooth setting, etc. Easier to just get their card and scan it with cam card and import it to the company contacts account. I send my contact info in text messages to people after i give them my card. This creates a double impression, and avoids my card being lost and with it a sale. Ive had clients call me back after weeks when they dug through their text messages for my contact info.

Re:Business Cards and Calling Cards (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389377)

Bump doesn't use Bluetooth on iPhone - 3rd party apps are prevented to use BT. Both phones send their GPS coordinates and the Bump servers match the requests based on time and location. However sometime the matching doesn't happen because the information send by one phone arrives faster than the other, or because the GPS is not accurate enough at that location... And in the middle of a meeting, spending 5+ mn to sync the phones is too much.
Bluetooth would indeed simplify the process.

Full contact info (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389221)

What I find is that, when I get a business card, I generally get full contact info, including a phone number, web site, physical address, etc. When I don't, I get an email address, if I am lucky.

If it is someone hard to reach (i.e., a business executive), having full contact info is very useful. Because of this, I don't see business cards going away any time soon.

Leap year dupe (4, Informative)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389225)

I knew this story sounded familiar. Turns out Slashdot did the same story on March 17th last year! []

Re:Leap year dupe (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389363)

It's deja-vu all over again.

The nice things about standards... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389227)

... is that there are so many of them. Is not just that "there are an app for them", that app, or standard, or whatever, should be everywhere to really remove the need of bussiness cards, in every phone, even dumb ones. Everyone can pick a paper, and while not everyone have that app (or an alternative one that just send your an URL, like for your linkedin profile) they business cards could remain.

Remembering who is who (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389229)

Remembering who is who doesn't get any easier with email or QR or vCards or whatever you choose, so why bring that up at all? If you're running a eCommerce operation I can understand but for most of us dealing in the real world they're not going away anytime soon. For example when we give a presentation or attend some event with a bunch of students, we don't have their email. Any amount of techno-gadgetry won't replace a simple "We'd be very interested in talking to you about employment opportunities, here's my contact info". Same if we meet at a real world breakfast meeting / seminar / conference / training class or indeed anything else that doesn't happen online.

Even if I can just scan the code on the back with my smartphone and hand it back to you, it takes the whole complication out of the exchange. If they can easily convert it to electronic info, great and they can throw away the card. If they can't, well they have it on the card. To use the word "lugging" about a few grams of paper shows this is full of hyperbole and pointless eGadgetry. It's just creating a lot of possible technological issues and suddenly you're standing there fumbling with smart phones instead of doing what you should be doing, which is talking to people. That time is usually so precious that the expense and inconvenience of a card that you can just hand over is trivial by comparison.

The best thing about business cards (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389237)

The person giving you the card can write contextual information on them that is relevant and has nothing to do with their contact information. Sure you could exchange vcards, but then it is up to you to make that addendum.

Suits like old technology (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389239)

When dealing with business people on your side of the Atlantic, I have had to look up things on occasion.

I remember when I started to deal with a US software company, they sent me a card to put in my "Rolodex". I had to look it up. My dad remembered seeing them but I had certainly never seen one. Now that I know what they look like, I have spotted them in films and on the TV.

A confusing thing I sometimes see a word in the phone number like 1-800-BEST-BUY. This does not work on a blackberry and is very fiddly on normal phones. I think it was probably easier on old fashioned rotary dial ones. How long ago were they?

I have had organisations here say that they don't do email because it insecure. That is possible. Then they get me to fax them. Their faxes are in shared areas and anyone can see what arrives. The list goes on.

Business cards are just another example of this. Anything modern is scary to some highly paid people and they don't want it and have the power to keep it away. Once, business cards must have been "new fangled". They adopted the fax. Why are they so luddite now?

Re:Suits like old technology (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389281)

The best solution to every problem is not necessarily high-tech.

One thing about business cards... (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389251)

It is extremely difficult to infect a computer with malicious code via a paper business card.

It just depends on whether you have a use case (1)

Geeky (90998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389261)

I find cards useful for my hobby. I take photos, mostly of models. Sometimes when I'm out I'll be chatting to someone and the subject will come up. If she shows an interest in posing for me, I give her my card - no pressure on her then to reciprocate or hand out her number, so she can go away and think about it. The card has my email address and website details, and is blank on the back; if I choose to, I can scribble my number on there as well. It works for me.

So basically the bottom line for me is I have a good reason to carry cards.

This is Stupid (4, Insightful)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389283)

Of course Business Cards are still useful.

young and Web-savvy people who are accustomed to connecting digitally, see business cards as irrelevant, wasteful — and just plain lame.

So business cards are obsolete now because...Anonymous doesn't like them? What? Just because this guy thinks he is too cool for business cards doesn't mean they are 'dead' or 'a casualty'.

1. They provide a simple, physical way for people to be reminded of you or find your contact information. Without waiting for your phone or tablet to load, without waiting for a PC to boot. It's a tiny square of paper with all of the information you need. It doesn't take much space, and you can fit hundreds of them in the corner of a desk drawer. No need for a shoebox.

2. They are simple to handle and easier to glean information from than a phone app or barcode. I don't know about you, but I can't read QR codes by sight. It's a lot easier to say "What was that guy's name from the conference?" and pull a card from the stack of lit you got than it is to pull up a vCard app on your phone and hope it has a 'most recent additions' feature so it's easier to find the guy you just entered last night.

3. They provide an artistic first-impression and give someone looking at your information an idea of your style and something to remember you by - something to get stuck in their head and make them remember you even without the card. A really good business card is not even close to a little rectangle of paper. Sometimes they will be lithographed and transparent, die-cut, foil-printed, some even fold into a pop-up scene.

4. They are of HUGE cultural significance in far-Eastern countries, such as Japan. There they have a whole 'ritual' when people present business cards to each other. There is a specific way they stand, greet the other, bow, speak, and trade cards. It is a very formal and respectful way of exchanging contact information, which is still prevalent in one of the most technologically-advanced societies in the world.

In summary, even if the submitter is some lolcat who has no use for business cards, it's not safe to count them out just yet. Saying they're 'dead' or 'obsolete' is just ignorant of the way the rest of the world outside your internet bubble works.

Gen Z...A...B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389285)

I'm just wondering when I'm going to suddenly become part of Generation Z. I am firmly in the Generation X category, by age and interests, until they made Generation Y and changed the ages for Gen X to just barely include me. Now this guy, who is 36, is somehow in Gen Y? Stop screwing with stuff after you've made a definition.

Not dying if you say "They need to die somehow" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389297)

Generally, if something "needs to die somehow", it means that:
1) The speaker wants it to die even though it ISN'T, otherwise they'd say "it's dying" or "it needs to die faster"
2) The speaker has no goddamn clue on what a replacement would be, otherwise "somehow" would be replaced with "so we can use X" or "because X is better", and require at least a perfunctory defense of X.

So, the speaker doesn't want business cards, he just wants something that's exactly like business cards but better.

You could apply that same reasoning to anything that has downsides. Like how healthy food and fast food are mutually exclusive. That division needs to "die somehow" so we can start having food that's tasty, cheap, convenient, and won't kill you if you eat it twice a day.


I herd u liek businesscards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389301)

A decent laser printer, a bit of card stock, instant cards. Most are fugly, even "professionally done" cards, but with a basic understanding of typography and a smidge feeling for design, you can produce quite acceptable ones. For the obligatory tech angle, well. Actually. 2d bar codes are just painful. dataglyphs would be nice but they're still proprietary, so much more's the pity.

In fact, I've contemplated scaring up a batch of those old "calling cards". Add great coat, top hat, cane, fine gloves. Instant style.

Who doesn't want to hack code while traveling in a horse-drawn hackney?

You can write on them (3, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389315)

it's hard to remember who is who

The nice thing is that most of the time you will be able to write on them. That means writing small notes about things you just discussed.
That is why I hate designer business cards who try to be clever. I like the boring white ones.
You meet somebody at a reception, at a conference or some other casual event. You start to talk and exchange cards. The talk might be 10 minutes and the moment you part, you take the card back and write on it whatever you think is important.

When you get home, you look at the 30-40 or more cards and see what you wrote on them. That will make it easy which ones you really must talk to, who you must avoid and if you wrote it down the things YOU said to them. Pretty important when you were talking prices for e.g. a new client or ideas you had.
e.g. "Wants a pr0n website with live models. Told him I knew htlm."

I was curious.... (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389335)

I was curious about the only person directly quoted in this article saying that business cards are passe. I checked out BeachMint Inc.and I laughed. This reporter should have considered talking to some people running successful companies, at the very least.

Cool Business Cards (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389349)

Business Cards are a great way to make a first impression and for making new contacts. If you don't have a business card then it's possible that your line of work does not have a huge demand for one (i.e. Airline Pilot). I would love to get a metal business card from Steve Wozniak:

Woz's Business Card []

Another imposing article... (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389375)

Another article where someone claims their personal view must surely be the view of the remainder of the world.

Personally I like them for the random contacts you make. Not the prearranged things the article talks about. I run into folks in my industry via flights, friends of friends, and other fairly happenstance meetings. Hell, I used to give out my professional card for personal contacts (with the preface of course - "I'm not trying to be an arrogant douche and flaunt a status, it's just much easier to give you my number this way") - though I've since created a non-business card for handing out to people without having to worry about the negative inferences from the former.

And yes - as another poster(s) has stated: QR codes and the like are a great feature to have on them these days. Worst case you carry one and you can exchange info by just scanning each other's cards.

proof that young people are stupid (2)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389399)

Make the best of the situation. Start trading them like Pokemon or Yugi O! Only this time, the monsters are REAL!!!

What does the customer/client expect? (1)

edibobb (113989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389439)

If you have regular contacts with clients and they expect a business card, it's usually a good idea to have one for them. Business cards are going away, but it's still a good idea to cater to the customer. Like fax machines, business cards eventually won't be necessary.

irrelevant, wasteful — and j (0)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389501)

Yah that's how I see social media and other hipster forced ways to communicate. If you are 15 maybe its uncool but if you are of a relevant age business cards are still a must and will be for a long time. Not everyone wants to lug around a fucking slim brick computer as a phone.

A Use for Business Cards (2)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389531)

Surprised it hasn't been mentioned, but...

When I am in client meeting, I like to get business cards from each of the participants at the table. These people are strangers to me. I place the cards on the table in front of me, next to my notepad. I order them by the placement around the table, giving me instant access to names and titles. I then transfer the information to my pad, along with notes (when I am not speaking, of course).

After the meeting completes, I then transfer information back to the cards.

Oh, look, it's this story again... (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389543)

"Thing X" the Latest Internet Casualty


This same old story (or something like it) gets rehashed on Slashdot every once a while. In fact, I remember a discussion on exactly the problem with thinking that business cards are no longer necessary.

A business card only requires you to reach into your pocket and hand it over without disturbing the flow of a conversation or even breaking eye contact. Some "app" requires you to grab your phone, look down, switch it on, find the icon, open it, then finally receive the contact info and ... er, what were we talking about again? There's just way too much dicking around. Sure, it's nifty and all, but that's about all it is.

Just because some rich hipster thinks that business cards are so passe doesn't mean they're going the way of the dodo.

old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389555)

Wow cards have been gone for about 5 years now! only time I've used them since was in japan because they have a whole ritual about it.

absurd (2)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389609)

This is one of the most ridiculous things i've ever heard. Not everyone has internet or smartphones and I think it will always be that way. I give business cards as a personal contact as well for business use. Many of the people i give cards to do not have smart phone or even internet so they need my phone number. People who do have email I would have to give my email address anyway and its easier to jsut give them a card with the address they can punch in later rather than trying to speak it out loud. In many ways, demanding another party you are speaking with to use some odd online app may also be rude and inconsiderate, intead of just giving them a business card. There is a simplicity with business cards as well, where an online sort thing thing tends to actually bring in more complexity and frustration. I would often end up writing down my web address anyway on a piece of paper, which is what I have on my business cards anyway. Business cards are simple and "just work" while some electronic alternative is often very complex and prone to numerous technical glitches.

E-Ink (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389659)

I'm looking for a simple E-Ink [] display and controller that will fit into a wallet or similar sized container. I already have QR codes that point to my web site which include customized identity strings on printed stationary. I can modify the ID in the QRC URL to redirect the particular target audience to a customized version of my web site. Or just track who visited and when. With the wallet sized display, I can whip it out in a meeting, have other attendees scan it and achieve the same level of customization on the fly.

I hereby place this idea into the public domain (if its not patented already). USPTO, go suck an egg.

Re:E-Ink (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389737)

If somebody whips out an electronic gadget and asks me to scan it in order to get their contact information, I'm going to laugh and walk away.

Mah (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389687)

My mind, unless you are in sales business cards are just a penis-extension along with a corporate supplied phone, etc. Maybe I've just been working at cheap employers but they all seem to limit cellphones to managers because "they need them" even when it is the drones that are the ones getting paged (yes paged) back to work. Why can't we have an oncall cellphone instead of a oncall pager "because it is cheaper". Ah but the manager having a cellphone that he never gets called on that isn't expensive :-)

Re:Mah (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389727)

I'm sorry you hate your job. Why do you think this is the place to rant about it?

Re:Mah (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389775)

No what I'm saying is that several employers I've worked for that way. Business cards are no longer being used as a means of communication they are used as a status symbol now: if you aren't sales and you have a business card (at least at the companies I've worked) someone has deemed you "important". You still will likely end up exchanging emails or vcards or whatever but the card shows "hey look this guy rates personal stationary".

How to replace them? (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389723)

Palm had a good idea: you could send an address book entry to another Palm device using its IR interface. Dead simple, too.

Unfortunately it was Palm-only, making it useless in most circumstances. I'm not aware of a replacement in today's phones. You could email someone a vCard, but that requires knowing their phone number. Is Bluetooth ubiquitous enough to be usable for this?

I use pens instead (4, Interesting)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389749)

As a long-time geek, I carry lots of pens in my shirt pocket. I decided to turn them into business cards.

I had a bunch of nice-looking personalized pens made, with my e-mail address inscribed on them. If someone asks me for my e-mail address, I hand them a pen. I then have to explain that the pen is not to write down my e-mail address, but it has my e-mail address alreay on it, and they can keep the pen. I have handed out more than 100 pens in the last couple of years. People tend to keep them longer than paper business cards because they have utility: you can write with them.

My e-mail address includes my name, and if you search the Web for my e-mail address you get my web site (hosted by the workstation under my desk at home) and my résumé, which includes a picture of me, my telephone number, and my mailing address. That's better than a business card.

Should Be OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389767)

Yeah, let's get rid of business cards. Should be ok cuz I haven't gotten nearly as many "My phone blew up and I lost everything, please re-rend all your info" lately.

Re:Should Be OK (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39389795)

"My dog ate my shoebox of business cards"

Something to sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389785)

It seems all these tech visionaries only start beating he drum about the demise of some existing tech or practice AFTER they have something to sell to replace it. So I'd look for what this person may be trying to sell.

Out of touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39389823)

I have to wonder if the writer of this article has ever been in a business situation. Business cards, in tech circles and other professions, are still very much in use. They're small, simple, inexpensive and they don't disappear if you lose your phone. Handing out a business card is a lot more effective and less cumbersome than trying to sync phones or manually enter contact info during an interaction.

The article reminds me of the "paperless office" articles of the 70s and 80s or the "e-mail is dead" articles of the 90s, or land-lines are dead articles in the wake of smart phones. Paper, e-mail and, for most of the people I know, land-lines are still the norm.

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