Jacob Gube of Six Revisions has compiled 30 visually-stunning sites which are all formatted like virtual business cards. Tim Van Damme, whose dot-com of the same name sparked this trend, also maintains a list as well.
There’s little else on each page except a rectangular area found dead-center, filled with icons representing the tons of new ways we can be contacted, befriended, stalked. We have the Web 2.0 era and all the insanely creative social media icon designers to thank for this phenomenon. (Sometimes blogs and other related sites are linked to in these cards, but who has time for those anymore?) If you don’t have the chops to whip up your own, services like Card.ly come to the rescue.
But that’s just the visual side of the metaphor being brought online. Business cards are meant to be exchanged because of the information they contain, so what good would these sites be without technological mojo? We have great frameworks like vCard, hCard, and perhaps the open identity systems like OpenID and oAuth. We also have companies working in the mobile space or have devices of their own (more here).
Then there are the lifestreaming apps, like FriendFeed, Tumblr, and chi.mp, which blur the lines between keeping one’s social accounts in one place and keeping up-to-date with said person at the same time.
How does one unassuming professional looking to establish an online presence actually choose from these possibilities? Social media evangelists pretty much recommend we get on everywhere, as many as and as much as we can help it. The goal is to be ubiquitous rather than obscure.
I have to wonder when we’ll ever reach true unification. Home phone. Work phone. Fax. Mobile phone. Email address. IM handle. Static homepage. Blog. MySpace page. Facbeook profile. LinkedIn profile. Facebook Fan Page. Twitter username. Then this—all of this.
How do you identify yourself offline and online? Do you pick one, or unload a bunch of URLs, aliases, and digits on your potential new client/drinking buddy/love-of-your-life? Is this whole business card business even a suitable metaphor, or yet another idea startups can cash in on? And we’re not even bringing up identity theft here.