Looking for examples of digital business cards?
February 4, 2010 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of, or suggestions for what the future of digital business cards (or business cards in general) will be like, or should be like?

flavors.me, extendr.com, www.mynameise.com are all babysteps in this direction. Any great examples or just free thinking would be great - do the include a reel? a real-time cloud of connections? current geo-location? augmented reality? etc..
posted by specialk420 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience it seems like LinkedIn has come the closest to replacing the rolodex full of business cards concept.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2010

I have seen people passing out tiny CD-ROMs with portfolios on them as business cards, although I think that's an idea whose time has passed.

What I do think would make sense (and we're already beginning to see) would be plain-old business cards with QR codes on them that encode a vcard. We're going to be at a point pretty soon where many if not most mobile phones can interpret those codes. And of course, we could save these QR images on our phones, to let other people scan them sans paper. Something like this, that doesn't depend on two people both using the same software or service, or pairing via bluetooth, strikes me as the more likely method for the actual exchange of contact data. Simpler and more universal will win.

What that data will include is another matter. The vcard format is pretty flexible, and should be able to include links to one's linkedin profile, twitter stream, etc.
posted by adamrice at 8:47 AM on February 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback.. I am thinking even a little bit deeper - how would William Gibson answer this question 2-5-10 years in the future?
posted by specialk420 at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2010

Have you seen the sixth sense MIT Media Lab project? Part of that uses facial recognition to look up a person's face and retrieve a dossier on them. Obviously that's prone to some error.

At some nerd-heavy conferences, the ID tags have RFID tags in them, which can be used to fetch information on the bearer. It's also possible to modulate a low-power electrical signal that's conducted over your skin, so that you could pass information through touch (a literal handshake protocol).
posted by adamrice at 11:23 AM on February 4, 2010

I bet QR codes pointing at personal websites will become more common, as more smartphones are equipped with cameras and the right software.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_codes
posted by sindark at 11:53 AM on February 4, 2010

To me the question requires thought on both what information will be on the card and how it will be delivered.

Delivery is the hard part. QR codes can store information on paper for later accurate camera recognition, but perhaps in ten years time OCR will be good enough to no longer need that. vCard is popular but bluetooth isn't simple or widely deployed enough to replace the business card jar. Some people use bootable business cards but I argue it's more a gimmick than efficient means of communicating things. I don't think Linked In is quite the online replacement for business cards; they're pushing for resumes which isn't always appropriate (they apparently do publish hCards though). Business cards represent more than just employers and coworkers, but also sales contacts, customers and vendors and are pretty valuable to the right people, so I don't think social network data can be collected and applied this way.

As for what information belongs on a business card, thats less interesting to me because it's mostly social convention. Obviously name, agency and title. I'm pretty sure we're stuck with email forever. Perhaps people will start using SIP and use DNS domains instead of (cell-)phone numbers. If you do business mainly online, location may not be an important thing to communicate. Perhaps GPG public keys, using a high density 2D barcode.

These are all things done today, though. Since a business card is printed ahead of time for someone who's sophistication is unknown, new uses today will take some time to become mainstream / popular. If you just want stupid stuff for a scifi novel, how about an ePaper business card that automatically updates itself from the internet. No idea how such a thing would power updates, or how it would connect.
posted by pwnguin at 2:21 PM on February 4, 2010

This person has some ideas.
posted by supremefiction at 2:41 PM on February 4, 2010

Response by poster: ok this discussion got much more interesting... thanks for all the dialogue here. Would future business cards perhaps be: paper > QR code > app (bump) > landing page (flavors.me) > deep dive: reel, network, work history, timeline, what value can I (the card holder) provide?, what am I looking for? and most interestingly - my network? how does my network/graph/interests/needs overlap with yours (card recipient) - let the cloud of information surrounding individuals start working together by simply meeting and "bumping" or scanning or ...?
posted by specialk420 at 11:07 PM on February 4, 2010

Just ran across pingtags.
posted by adamrice at 3:10 PM on February 18, 2010

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