Do you have a card?

By: Elizabeth
One form of “E-waste” that comes to mind for me is all those contact numbers and email addresses entered into your phone that will never be used. Because everyone is so electronically connected now, it doesn’t seem like as big a deal to “plug someone in” to your system. Just get their email address- not too personal, right? Or even their name- find em on facebook. But in many cases how likely are you to “use” that information again? Or, god forbid, commit it to memory (when was the last time you memorized a phone number)?

I would say that the likelihood of me ever thinking about a person again (let alone contacting them) is multiplied at least 10 fold if I have received their personal/business card, as opposed to simply entering their info into my phone. There is a good chance I will come across the card again and again (cleaning out my bag, moving things around my desk, searching through my card collection for someone else). I hold it in my hands, it is tactile, the font, information included, material choice (usually paper but sometimes even plastic or rubber- as seen above) are all used to express something about the individual- all this works together to capture my attention in a way that I don’t consider “wasteful”.

This all goes back to the personal/nostalgia elements of paper we’ve all talked about but I think it is interesting in terms of our discussion of the way time/attention is used or wasted in an e-world, as compared to how it functions in the experience of producing, receiving, and retaining the material version of this very same information (in this case, someone’s name, occupation, and contact information).

I was at a film festival this weekend and, taking my own small paper cards with me, was initially a bit insecure and uncertain as to what the “card culture” would be. However I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was far from alone, and became the thrilled recipient (as well as donor) of many business cards- items that I will likely keep (in my rubberbanded stack) for a long time to come.

(Hoarder alert! :)

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1 Comment»

  cindypound wrote @

this is a really interesting observation (and cool photo as well.) something about the physicality of the business card makes it feel more important, more lasting, more persistent. whereas the digital data feels less valuable/more expendable.

there was a brief period of time in device evolution (pre iphone) when the palm pilot was the defacto – albeit off line – personal productivity device (calendar, contacts, to do list, etc.) for a a while it had this infrared capability that allowed two palm users to share data directly between the devices. that was considered the hot shit for like 6 months. ha.

on the flip side of this, however, i remember reading some where (knowing me it was probably the new york times) that certain information – when stored on a user’s cell phone – takes on a role as a powerful proxy for identity. people were talking about taking the action of deleting someone from their phone (an ex, for example) as analogous to removing someone from their life entirely.


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