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March 15, 2010

SXSW: Gasp! Twitter gives out paper business cards

Posted: 09:56 AM ET

Ever since Twitter made a big splash at South By Southwest in 2007, the micro-blogging site has seen a lot of milestones. The site has won support from celebrates like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, signed search deals with Google and Yahoo!, recently hired their 140th employee, and even had the 10 billionth tweet sent out early in March.

But the hip, San Francisco company was missing something that, in the general business world, seems rather basic: It never had business cards. Employees just gave out their Twitter names instead.

But that, too, has changed. At SXSW this year, Twitter employees are handing out paper business cards just like the rest of us. Instead of eggshell white, the company went with an earthy brown color for its cards.

That may seem like a silly bit of news, but first consider the context. At SXSW, everything is going digital. Instead of handing out cards, many tech professionals just download a smartphone app called i-Nigma and then scan a barcode on other attendee's name tags. That person's contact info automatically downloads onto the phone. Others use an iPhone app called Bump, which, when two phones are tapped together, exchanges a business-card's worth of data through the air.

A Twitter spokesman poked fun at the idea of business cards even as he listed the benefits of paper-based networking.

"This antiquated thing called 'business cards' is a helpful way for some of us to bridge our online and offline worlds with potential employees, partners and the thousands of developers who make Twitter applications," said company spokesman Sean Garrett.

So, is paper really the new mode of social networking? Next thing you know, maybe Twitter employees will be spotted in ties.

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Filed under: Twitter

Share this on:   March 15th, 2010 12:17 pm ET

Kim thought you might like this.

Charlie Fox   March 15th, 2010 12:18 pm ET

This is like the opposite of news.

ss.   March 15th, 2010 12:20 pm ET

Actually, if you're in design, marketing, or you are an academic following social media's impact on society, it is news.

ss.   March 15th, 2010 12:20 pm ET

Hear, hear RLA.

Ron H   March 15th, 2010 12:21 pm ET

Irony. There's no way to tweet this article.

unamused   March 15th, 2010 12:21 pm ET

Is this a joke? Are CNN dollars actually being paid to someone for saying Twitter employees are using business cards?

Dana   March 15th, 2010 12:24 pm ET

Well, the tech sector has been trying to push the "paperless" society idea for the past 20 years. I guess with some success. Considering that many more people like reading e-books now rather than getting a hardcopy. But I don't see how you'll ever completely get away from a physical hardcopy to present information.

People will still drive cars from the 50's for nostalgia and because it looks "hip" to have a classic car. So, I could see the same thing for business cards, and who knows, maybe they'll start posting jobs in the newspapers again for employment and a larger level before Monster took over?

RLA   March 15th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

People, do you really believe that the overwhelmingly vast majority of what is posted online or is shown on 24 hour news networks is actually "NEWS"???

News today is primarily an entertainment/ratings driving activity and anything and everything that happens is tossed out there for whatever it's worth (or worthless). Ratchet down your expectations on this. Where have you been the last few years. The card story is just a basic common human interest story to fill space. There's not enough real news to fill the need to know so stuff like this pours out.

Don't be surprised or comment it isn't news as if that's an amazing revelation or that the news people don't know that it isn't news.

MrPeanut12345   March 15th, 2010 12:31 pm ET

I've never considered Twitter of much value, and don't use it. Business cards, on the other hand, are of a lot of use. If you ever go to a trade show where you enter a drawing to try and win something, you need a business card to enter. For that reason, I use them.

Will   March 15th, 2010 12:31 pm ET

so... it's a slow news day?

what   March 15th, 2010 12:36 pm ET

*coughcough*it says BLOG on top*coughcough*

S   March 15th, 2010 12:36 pm ET

It's naive to say print is dead. People still like to hold tangible, non-interactive media in their hands. Information overload is at an all-time high, and people are tired of all the social media and networking options.

Craig   March 15th, 2010 12:39 pm ET

Slow news yes, but relevant. Ironic thay you can't Tweet this article.

Technology is moving so fast – its refershing to see the new anchored with the past. Business cards will ever pass – but clearly the case exists for something to take its place. The sense of touch is very reassuring.

Twinko   March 15th, 2010 12:39 pm ET

Hey, who took my Twinkies??

Sallad   March 15th, 2010 12:44 pm ET

slow news day indeed. They also posted an item about the microsoft surface... that is just like the news, next the cycle will continue.. they will write something about Omega 3 and how it just might be good for your brain. or that coffee might not be bad for you. A year from now cnn will have a new group of 20 year olds who will repeat, omega 3 is good..., and actually think it is new and relevant. This business card thing is not news, did fox news hack into cnn. i am going to reuters.

Joseph Maguire   March 15th, 2010 12:47 pm ET

I have had it with the media's obsession of trying to get everyone to click on popular keywords like Twitter. Guess what no one thinks this is news editors choose what you post more responsibly.

Love Print   March 15th, 2010 12:50 pm ET

Yes, it's news, if you are in marketing or business development, it's news!!!!!

Latest info out of Deliver magazine:

Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Earthtone, a firm specializing in comparison pricing for printer houses.
64% of employed U.S. adults say print media is easier to read.
68% say they feel more comfortable reading something on paper
than on screen, suggesting that we associate things we can touch and feel as being more "real". More personal than a web address, etc.

Sallad   March 15th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

why is this news? are they paving the way for brown cards? or are they saying business cards are OK? where i am from people still have business cards, and this is not a graphic design news story. it is a hyper nerd story almost mocking the fact that paper can still be used for personal advertisement, and (insert your religious deity here) forbid a pen and paper can be used to collect information, thoughts or send a message. paper is not dead, this is not a story. I thought maybe the cards had a chip in it that would be interesting.

Disliking CNN   March 15th, 2010 1:03 pm ET

How is this a news? I used to like CNN but lately they are publishing nonsense stuff!

Sallad   March 15th, 2010 1:06 pm ET

i also find it misleading and irresponsible for cnn to use weblogs as a front page news. i reports come with a huge disclaimer that you have to click out of when you first go there. so yea this is a weblog, cloaked as news. dumb site wasting my bandwidth

tiewearer   March 15th, 2010 1:07 pm ET

"Next thing you know, maybe Twitter employees will be spotted in ties."

I shudder at the mere thought!

Jose   March 15th, 2010 1:10 pm ET

I use my Moo cards also showing only telephone number and tweeter account.
There are even free designs:

John   March 15th, 2010 1:10 pm ET

Two points. First, this is a sorry excuse for a "news" story. Second, I think my 2 year old could have done a better job designing their business card.

MCamel   March 15th, 2010 1:17 pm ET

It's a blog, it's not claiming to be news. And regardless, it is a relevant piece of information.

norm.c62   March 15th, 2010 1:22 pm ET

I know this "service" will never go away... but I wish it would. Really, the name says it all, doesn't it? TWITter. I don't have it, and I never will.

ComeOnCNN   March 15th, 2010 1:31 pm ET

Breaking news! Twitter offices switch to 2-ply toilet paper!

The hip, San Francisco company was missing something that, in the general business world, seems rather basic: It never had ultra soft 2-ply toilet paper. Employees just wiped with single ply paper instead.

But that, too, has changed. At SXSW this year, Twitter employees are wiping with 2-ply just like the rest of us. Instead of eggshell white, the company went with an earthy brown color for its tissue.


The above version is about as relevant as the original story. I'm in design and marketing too but that doesn't mean that I should think that this story is newsworthy. In fact, it's all the more reason for me to think the opposite.

follow me on twitter   March 15th, 2010 1:34 pm ET

twitter is the best but they need to increase the characters. 150 for me is not enough. LOL. oh well.... whatever. i loved to tweet and i alwasy tweeting even im on school or somewhere. twitter is my bestf friend buddy hahaha....

i have twitter mobile on my phone yayy!!!

Sven   March 15th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

This is not news. Neither is "Werewolf hugs at Twilight convention" or "Q&A: How serious is Beckham's injury?" Go do something useful with your lives, CNN "journalists" and "bloggers". Let the 15 year old bloggers handle this nonsense.

ndginla   March 15th, 2010 1:45 pm ET

Dana... I've been in IT for over 30 years, and trust me, they have been talking about going paperless for a lot longer than 20 years... but like any other IT project, it is way late and over budget.

Sometimes, simple, low-tech solutions work just fine.

MG   March 15th, 2010 1:47 pm ET

this is stupid news. I am a designer, and think this just a waste of web space.

mrae   March 15th, 2010 2:12 pm ET

Ridiculous! What a waste of trees! I can't stand Twitter... if these business cards are not made from 100% recycled materials, it will make me dislike it even more!

Ms. Behaves   March 15th, 2010 2:16 pm ET

To those commenting on this not being news: You do know you're reading a BLOG, here, right? It's a blog on CNN, sure, but it's still a blog.

matt   March 15th, 2010 2:17 pm ET

Wow like anyone cares what twitter is using for business cards......What a joke........Does anyone that goes to SBSW have a girlfriend to begin with? Yeah I doubt it too, maybe they should start there.....

Sallad   March 15th, 2010 2:22 pm ET

did they seriously get 2 ply toilet paper at twitter? i recycle and reduce waste so well, i don't use toilet paper, i just squeeze my bunz tight, physics takes care of the rest. see cnn this is a news story, no TP just physics.

Observer50   March 15th, 2010 2:41 pm ET

"This is not news CNN."

I'm always amused when I see someone who tries to define what NEWS is for everyone else on the planet and wastes the time it takes to make the laughable comment about their own narrow perspective.

Deb   March 15th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

I thought this was a cute article. I like the comment about bridging the gap between the virtual and real world. Good to know that people are still into business cards.

Peter   March 15th, 2010 2:52 pm ET

This isn't "news." That's why it's posted in the SciTechBlog section of the Web site.

Quite frankly, I don't think the NCAA basketball tournament should be considered "news." But just because *I* think that way doesn't mean everyone *else* should.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the blog entry. Soetimes, you can't replace paper.

Chris   March 15th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

It's a CNN Science & Tech blog, people... not the front page of the Wall Street Journal. If this isn't real news to you, then don't click the story and comment on it! You just make it more popular (and thereby tell CNN that this is important) when you do anything but ignore it.

Apparently there's no room in your world view for a news organization that covers some non-newsy stories now and then.

Lighten up!

Lee Zuniss   March 15th, 2010 3:05 pm ET

I am an owner of a speciality printing company called ALDINE based in NYC. We've been in business for 26 years and over the past 10 years have noticed a decline in the amount of stationary ordered, but quite the opposite regarding business cards. We have been printing more business cards then ever. It seems as though, the money previously spent on letterhead and envelopes has been been shifted to purchasing beautifully letterpressed, engraved, embossed, super thick, etc business cards leaving the recipient of the card with something impressive to hold on to with a lasting impression. Beaming your contact info into someone else's smartphone is pretty cool, don't get me wrong, but it eliminates the element of artistic character of yourself or company. So, I'm happily not surprised to hear about Twitter's paper business cards 🙂

Drew   March 15th, 2010 3:09 pm ET

Paper is still the only way for two strangers to meet and exchange contact info quickly, using a universally readable medium.

I'm surprised we aren't doing this by Bluetooth handshake yet, but for now, business cards are what we've got.

BrickellPrincess   March 15th, 2010 3:10 pm ET

Yawn...all these American "tech" companies still run like dinosaurs.

Biotech in NC   March 15th, 2010 3:13 pm ET

Many businesses do not allow access to Twitter or Facebook, therefore handing out a Twitter name wouldn't be useful for making professional contact with the person.

In addition, it's very useful to have the paper card when you meet someone, especially if it is at a large meeting or conference. The benefit is that you can make notes on the back as to the nature of your contact. I find that notes to myself like: "email TPS report", "call for collaboration on X project", etc., helps me to facilitate connections and make my follow-ups more personal.

Patrick   March 15th, 2010 3:17 pm ET

Honestly, I'm shocked to learn that Twitter HAS employees. When I try to contact their support team, it takes three months to get a reply, and even then, it's a form mail. Do autoresponders have business cards?

tweeted out   March 15th, 2010 3:23 pm ET

does this article/blog really demand this much commentary.
everyone, including me, has too much time on their hands.

Al   March 15th, 2010 3:26 pm ET

Why is this an article? Has the media gone mad?

chris   March 15th, 2010 4:09 pm ET

It isn't listed as "news"... its a blog.

How to Get a Blogger’s Attention | The Blog Herald   March 15th, 2010 4:26 pm ET

[...] you have to go old school to rule new media. Heck, even Twitter employees are passing around paper businesscards. Send a physical mailing that includes a clear message of what you are looking for. You don't [...]

really?   March 15th, 2010 4:35 pm ET

People will blog about anything.

"NEWSFLASH: Bill Gates likes pie! To counter, Steve Jobs take Bill's pie, adds whipped cream and sells it for 10x the cost!"

Drew   March 15th, 2010 4:38 pm ET

If you care about this you may also care about the new box of pens the kind folks at Twitter just ordered. Oh, and they got a fancy new copier. And electricity.

Bryan   March 15th, 2010 4:38 pm ET

This just in....Twitter issues business cards. Are you kidding me CNN?

Mizz   March 15th, 2010 4:45 pm ET

Another article that proves the complete obsolescence of Peace out.

Wage   March 15th, 2010 4:54 pm ET

Kind of funny all the commentors who have no use for this article, yet took the time to click on it, read at least a few lines and comment! I've garnered business by dropping my card in a bowl to win something where it was noticed by others hoping to win lunch or a trip for example!

Matt   March 16th, 2010 12:24 pm ET

Big deal. Clever. Snappy. Geeky. For shots around SXSW, including Twitter's Evan Williams and Twitterholic Ashton Kutcher...

Business Cards Biz   March 16th, 2010 10:58 pm ET

Great card! I reblogged it on my business card blog

Bryan   March 17th, 2010 3:45 am ET

Yea, it's true web addresses might be easier to remember than business cards, but come on, it's like having a hardcover copy of a book; it's always good to have something tangible in hand. I don't care how 'antiquated' Twitter's PR department says Business Cards are...they're TWITS! Of course they are going to say that. People still use cards everywhere including gift bags and trade shows.

eric   March 17th, 2010 9:26 am ET

To you who feel this is not news.... your right, its not... that why its on a blog page.

Challenger25   March 17th, 2010 11:51 am ET

Hard to believe that CNN would feature this – as if there are no other technology news??? No wonder the whole network became an epitome of senseless sensationalism and forgot what it's like to actually report the news.

Alex   March 17th, 2010 1:33 pm ET

I think I just tweeted myself.

Challenger25   March 18th, 2010 12:19 pm ET

Seriously? This is considered news-worthy?

Chad   March 18th, 2010 8:59 pm ET

Since when does a BLOG post need to be news. Blogs on CNN are not for publishing news, they're for things that don't quite qualify as actual news.

That being said, I'd like to know if the Twitter business cards contain nothing but that person's @twitter name. 🙂

TCPDump   March 19th, 2010 9:36 am ET

Hold on....I'm working up a care.....oops...sorry that was gas.

How is this considered anything near news? But then again that seems to be the ongoing trend.

Social Media - Turning Over an ‘Old’ Leaf @ PMG   March 23rd, 2010 5:08 pm ET

[...] to CNN's SciTechBlog, 'A Twitter spokesman poked fun at the idea of business cards even as he listed the benefits [...]

Ilan Ben Menachem   March 25th, 2010 3:22 pm ET

does this article/blog really demand this much commentary.
everyone, including me, has too much time on their hands.

Twitter at SXSW: A whodunnit? « Felt & Wire   March 25th, 2010 7:23 pm ET

[...] As an online community for the paper-obsessed, we at Felt & Wire understand irony so very well, and we would like to be among the first to welcome Twitter to 21st-century communication, in all its encompassing glory. Read the full story here. [...]

lia   March 26th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

tweets are disposable. Cards stay in your wallet or Rolodex.

Franko   March 27th, 2010 4:56 pm ET

Each business card has a carbon footprint
The next business card you use may tip the balance to runaway global warming

We will all die, boiled by the rising oceans
Sequester business cards, store them underground, with radioactive waste !

Gasp! Twitter gives out paper business cards | MannisMacNeil Design Group   April 10th, 2010 8:01 pm ET

[...] This is wonderful. From the SciTEchBlog, March 15: [...]

Bob Valeri   April 20th, 2010 4:34 pm ET

As a printer, if we can convince twitter to send out invoices and advertising literature by snail mail on paper, we can return to our roots and make some money again!

Samantha Thomsett   May 5th, 2010 3:03 pm ET

wish everyone here would read my blog or if they know anyone interested in getting married or having a baby christened here is the place to go

Harriet Russell   May 11th, 2010 5:18 pm ET

A very professional looking business card is really very important in promoting your business. It makes good impression among customers...`

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Glenn   June 22nd, 2010 4:40 pm ET

It's gonna be helpful for people who do not have iPhones or wi-fi phones i guess.   June 30th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

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SonicPrint: Full Color Printing & Direct Mail Marketing Tips – Twitter Employees Use Paper Business Cards?   August 4th, 2010 11:50 am ET

[...] SXSW: Gasp! Twitter gives out paper business cards Posted: 09:56 AM ET Ever since Twitter made a big splash at South By Southwest in 2007, the micro-blogging site has seen a lot of milestones. The site has won support from celebrates like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, signed search deals with Google and Yahoo!, recently hired their 140th employee, and even had the 10 billionth tweet sent out early in March. [...]

Jack Smith   September 30th, 2010 3:30 pm ET

i love to make business cards at home, you can make a nice one by just using an inkjet printer.-`

Matt   October 8th, 2010 5:13 am ET

That is actuality really surprising. You would have though that they would use some sort of new digital way to trade information but sometimes it is better to go back to the old ways. I guess it helps that people can keep the card but you can forget a name if you are asking everyone for names.

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Styrofoam Sheets    October 18th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

our business cards are very colorful but very professional looking,*;

jonesd   October 21st, 2010 4:17 pm ET

This just goes to show that we are a long way off from the end of the traditional paper card. Twitter, just like many other online businesses are recognizing the value of tradition communication methods.
Handmade cards

Sleeper Sofa ·   November 7th, 2010 3:29 pm ET

you can always create great business cards by just using adobe photoshop and some other photoediting tools *

Lead with your best card | M-bossed   March 8th, 2011 9:51 am ET

[...] world, business cards are the real first point of contact with prospects and customers (just ask Twitter). Hopefully the card invokes a positive response and gets filed away to be used later to retreive a [...]

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Twitter at Tech Conference: Here’s My Card! « Crane & Co. Inc.   November 3rd, 2011 6:28 am ET

[...] The third and perhaps the loudest shot fired in the Paper Revolution came today from Twitter, as reported in CNN's SciTechBlog: [...]

Twitter’s Paper Business Cards | Paperspecs   January 31st, 2012 3:09 pm ET

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