Business Cards Go Digital

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During the year and a half I worked for TIME as a Tokyo correspondent, I handed out approximately 41,325 business cards. Well, okay. Maybe a few hundred less. But seriously, business cards–meishi in Japanese–are serious business over there, requiring proper etiquette in everything from their handling (always receive one with both hands, and never place it face down) to design (the typesize can’t be bigger than your boss’s).

I collect business cards. Which is to say I keep stacks of every business card I’ve ever received on my desk. In fact, of late I’ve been increasingly aggravated by the stacks. I can’t seem to throw them out–who knows when I’ll need to contact that PR lady from the mining company in Wyoming?–and I also can’t seem to find the time to entomb them in a Rolodex-type organizer. Not that I even own one.

It seems to me we’re at some sort of tipping point in business-contact organization. I see where it’s headed: business cards are out; digital cards are in. We’re trucking inexorably toward digitalizing everything we know, including our clients and sources and sushi delivery joints. Which technology will win?

I don’t read the lifehacking blogs because I’m too busy being disorganized, but I did read a release from a new company called Lyro that offers a network of digital business cards. I opened an account (simple as an e-mail and password) and created my own (again, as simple as typing in your info). The result is a very plain business card on a web site nobody knows about. Check mine out here (don’t all crank call me at once).

A few irks: though the site gives you the option of choosing your own color palette, the process is too complicated; it leads you to another site with a color chart all full of coding and other gobbledygook. The prototypical business card looks fine, but it lacks basic information like e-mail. What business card these days doesn’t include an e-mail address?

And there’s the issue of what to do with the card once it’s made. You can send them to associates. But what do they do with them? If enough people start using the service, I guess it would be a handy way to quickly look up and download the data. Till then, it’ll be just one more result when I Google myself.

Anyway, I’m looking for help here. How do you organize your contacts? What Web-based services do you like? Know any good sushi delivery joints in midtown Manhattan?

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