Business Cards

Every time I walk into an establishment I grab a business card. I almost never use this card to contact said establishment later, I just keep it with all of the other cards I have. There is absolutely no reason for me to be doing this, aside from the odd joke about me having a card for “My Shaman” etc.

So why in the world do I do this? Well, I just like to, and business cards can be useful. I know several (okay more than that) businessmen (people) who would get sick to their stomach at the idea of taking in more business cards than they already do. I’m sure many people routinely purge their business cards either from their systems entirely or import them into something digital and forget them. I don’t have enough business interactions nor do I walk into enough establishments that have prominently displayed cards for that to be necessary.

I (as with many things I acquire) like having them. But in this case I “can” (should I want to) use them later as well. When indexed properly I can easily find businesses or people in whatever area I’m in that I frequently go to and find contact info or even business hours (and since I’m in the middle of nowhere and many places have no web presence it’s sometimes the only way to find out information like that). And sometimes they are wacky and unique (see “Shaman” above), or pieces of art. But many times they are good examples of what not to do on a card, and upon occasion something you can point to as the best way to make a card ever (that would be my business card, I’m sure of it).

As far as collections go, this one is nice because it doesn’t take up much space and some people can understand why you would want to keep information easily available. And sometimes I realize I’m just a graphic design junkie and I like having all of the styles, sizes, and materials available for reference or brain training or something similar. The cards just look pretty sometimes, which just cements their place in my collections.

The Failure of Targeted Ads

Now, if the some of my past Articles/Blog Posts are any indication, it seems to have become increasingly clear to me that: a) no one in the tech industry has any idea what they’re doing anymore, and b) tech companies are innately a dumb kind of evil. And no matter how many times Google says “don’t be evil” at me it is still obvious that it’s a vampire that feeds on people’s souls through data collection.

But, as I’ve talked about before, for as much data as Google collects, as wide a range as its audience is, and as powerful as its (self-driving cars, and painting computer) technology becomes, it is still really bad at doing things. I’ve talked before about how bad their various interfaces are, and it’s pretty accepted that most hacking is most easily done through ones Gmail account. But even the one thing that they are supposedly doing really well, making tons of money with targeted ads, doesn’t really work for me. As a matter of fact I would say that the Google ad system, as I’ve interacted with it, is broken to the point of being unable to convince me to but a product.

I do recognize that part of that is due to my more sporadic and oddball nature. I do recognize that the things I like are on the fringe of society, and that perhaps people who in general like more popular stuff would be more susceptible to Google’s methods. But I have never once had a “targeted” ad be for something that I was looking for, or rather, something that predicted the item I was trying to buy. I have had some ads that give me photos of items I had looked at several hours ago from the same site in the ad, which, if anything, made me want to purchase it less. I’ve also gotten many more ads from sites I’ve already signed up to, as opposed to ones I hadn’t heard of but were interested in.

Because I’m in Texas, and sometimes near the border, I’ve gotten ads for a salon in Spanish. Not only can I not understand what is being said, I really have no use for a salon at all. I’ve gotten information about services I don’t use, in languages I don’t speak, from my city, and a whole number of random things that are “popular” that I care about not at all.

In short, I’d never consider advertising with Google, because they have done such a poor job of advertising to me. I consider the targeted ads of today a failure, but I don’t really want them to get better. I’m fine figuring out what I like on my own, because “don’t be evil” is relative.

On Branded Products

I use a lot of things; these days we all use a lot of things. And sometimes things break, sometimes people ask what those things are, sometimes we think it would be useful to have another of that thing, and sometimes we do reviews of things on the internet. Whatever the case, sometimes it is good or necessary to know who made the thing you’re using, and what exactly the thing you’re using is called.

The majority of things we buy these days that don’t come from a no-name factory in China have some form of branding on them. Sometimes it’s just the company name, sometimes it’s a whole slew of things from company name to how often you should clean the product. Sometimes it’s right on the front, and sometimes it’s hidden away in a corner where you have to take the entire thing apart to find it. But what is the optimal place for this branding?

As a consumer, mostly I can tell you I would disagree with most companies on this point. For instance, I usually don’t want to buy notebooks with company names or purposes stamped on the front (Rhodia : Composition). I think the proper place for a logo or company name is in an easily accessible, but not usually seen, area. In notebooks this would be similar to the Leuchtturm or Moleskine who emboss their names on the bottom back of the book. Nothing is used to draw attention there, but I can easily find it. At the same time, if it was buried under the back pocket of the book and that was the only place to find it, I’d think they were hiding something.

I guess that partly stems from me not wanting to be an advertising platform. I don’t wear logo t-shirts, There’s no brand name on my shoes or pants that is easy to see, etc. Everything I can is as stripped as I can make if of logos and company names. Occasionally, when I really like a product, I will proudly display it and gladly tell people who made it. But this is on my terms, and I almost resent companies trying to force their advertising into my products. I don’t want people to judge me for what type of device I’m using unless they like it and come up to ask me. I’ve never once forgotten what the name of the product I was using at the time was, and I’m perfectly capable of giving it to an interested party.

But if I do forget, it’s nice to have it there; it shouldn’t be buried away under all of the tools in a multi-tool or on a tiny tag underneath its setup. That just makes it hard to get to when I need it, say to order parts, or recommend it to a friend over text or what have you. I don’t need to be advertised with, that’s tacky, but I don’t need names hidden from me, that makes me look cheap.

I think most manufacturers tend one way or the other and it’s hard for people like me to strike a balance. I usually just cover it if I feel it’s advertising though. My iPhone is in a case, my notebook is in my bag etc. And in general I do feel that technology is better at keeping it simple and mostly out of sight, at least down to more pleasant-looking logos.

But I do like branding. Whether I’m using my Mac, or a Crescent wrench, or a Bic pen, it’s nice to know something about what I’m using, and in some cases like the company. It might have been made in china, or the US, or Mexico, or the EU, but it wasn’t some company that wasn’t willing to tell me their name. Sometimes, though, I wish the companies that do would tell me a little more quietly.