Back in January, I blogged on my personal journal about how “even in the information age, nothing beats getting carded.” I observed at the time that even in this age of digital bits freely flowing back and forth, when so many other paper forms of communication are beginning to be endangered by e-quivalents, and ten years after the Palm’s infrared beaming was supposed to supersede it, the humble business card continues to be extremely useful.
Now the Washington Post has taken notice of the phenomenon, with an in-depth look at how business cards are still being used today. Over the last three years, Staples reports, business card demand has seen double-digit growth. People are still using business cards, now more than ever. Nobody’s yet come up with anything that can replace them.
"There is something incredibly genius about the business card performing a single function very well," said Ted Striphas, author of "The Late Age of Print" and a communications professor at Indiana University. "It works right every time."
In a way it makes sense: any solution that relies on technology would require both people in the transaction to have the same technology. This was one of the things that relegated the Palm’s much-vaunted “beaming” little more than a fad, silly TV commercials notwithstanding.
The Post also points out that business cards can serve the purpose of “self-branding”—adding that extra little touch that makes you memorable to the person you gave it to. Even if people end up using a scanner or camera to transfer the information from the card into their contacts files, the card itself still carries the information in a much more portable and timely manner than having to write it down.
Even if the e-book makes paper books obsolete, I suspect that business cards are going to be with us for a very long time.