I’ve been using my left brain cells scanning business cards for one of my managers (his collection from many of his wanderings). One thing that has stuck in my mind while performing this mind-numbing task is the affects of format. A few years ago, we were going to beam our “cards” to each other (ala the Palm, et al), completely eliminating paper-based cards. Ha! I say. However, with technology such as the CardScan scanner, we’re getting closer to this sort of e-utopia. However, in an effort to stand out in a sea of business cards, some have taken to unique shapes, fonts, colors, what-have-you. Some of these are truly creative, but many are just obnoxious. The scanner hates pretty much all of them, though. So, my friends and colleagues, if you are considering a new business card format, consider a few things carefully. First, non-standard colors and fonts get garbled in these scanners. Second, save the uber-creative stuff for your website. Keep in mind that the spiffiest card design can’t make up for content. No one will keep your card, or reach out to you, unless they want or need to. Lastly, try really hard not to put a massive array of data on these things. They’re pretty darn small, and putting a book’s worth of information makes them numbing to read. My advice is to put more data on your website, and then print the link. Easy!
With all of this, I’ve been considering this sort of data. It’s not hard to envision a future where you just give out a social id, and some can grab your information on Facebook, or some future incarnation. In this setting, I picture the ability to select how much, and who, can see what. So, in this Facebook of the future, I see the ability of my friends and family to see nitty-gritty details, where co-works can see less, or more specifically relevant information, and so on the less related someone is.