The Death of Business Cards?

The first internship I held was the summer after my first-year at Carolina. An outside sales position where I went door-to-door of local businesses in the Chapel Hill and Durham area selling advertisement space in both the UNC-CH and Duke student planners. By the end of the summer, I accumulated an entire box of business cards. And by no means were they organized. Luckily, a fellow intern showed me this savior of an app, Cardmunch. The LinkedIn-backed app was brilliant. Users took a photo of a physical business card using their phone. Then they sent the photo off into the abyss of the app and within a matter of hours all of the information would be returned in the form of a contact. If you wanted to call that person — just tap on there phone number. If you need to shoot them a quick email to set up a meeting — press their email address and it would launch you into a new email draft on your phone.

Somehow, things went wrong. And LinkedIn terminated the app in conjunction with announcing it was joining efforts with Evernote in the spring of 2014. While Cardmunch was a free service, this new Evernote function will eventually be only a premium feature (they grandfathered in existing Cardmunch users for free service for up to two years).

Then I came across an article by The Economist on “why the business card is thriving in the digital age.”

The article explains how paper business cards have remained relevant even with the rise our of digital media use and consumption. I reckon when you can hand someone a business card shaped as an order of fries, you feel like a boss. And business cards have long been a go-to for giving your number to an interested party at a bar or party. I’m not hating or debating that. Maybe there is something symbolic and iconic about sliding a physical paper card with your name on it across a table. Have I thought about what I would like my future business card to look like? You bet.

However, if we aren’t to the point where virtual business cards are a reality, I still see the need to virtually catalog these adult name tags. Ideally free, please. As someone who acquired hundreds over the course of a summer, it’s impossible to keep track and remember who is who. Plus, how many times have you heard a parent or an adult complain about their wallet or purse being too full of cards or wishing they one their cards on them at an opportune moment.

I challenge the author’s final point:

“The business world is obsessed with the notion of disruptive innovation. But there are lots of things that do not need to be disrupted or innovated. Your columnist finds paper diaries less fiddly than electronic ones. Having dinner with someone is a better way of getting to know them than Skypeing. And exchanging business cards still seems to be an excellent way to initiate a lasting relationship. The ritual swapping of paper rectangles may be old-fashioned but on it will go.”

Yes, maybe for now paper business cards reign supreme. But as we have seen with other forms of print, digital will take over this part of our lives too.


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