March 29, 2007 2:10 PM PDT
Web 2.0 business cards sport photos, avatars
It happens that those are the measurements of Moo cards, a new take on the centuries-old business card that's becoming the "secret handshake" of the Web 2.0 set.
At the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference here, and at other recent geek-heavy events like South by Southwest, the Game Developers Conference and the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference, as well as for months in blogger-heavy circles, people have been busy handing out Moo cards. The smoothly laminated cards are a fraction of the conventional 86- by 54-millimeter business cards and have contact information on the front and personal, customizable photographs on the back.
Plus, because of their small size, there are 52 Moo cards per sheet of paper, rather than 22 per sheet for traditional-size cards.
What ties the cards so closely to Web 2.0 culture is that they are quickly being adopted as the method of choice for giving out personal information by users of the online community-based services Flickr, Second Life, Fotolog, Bebo and Habbo Hotel.
When the cards launched last September, they were available only to Flickr users, who could order packs of 100 cards for $20 and upload as many as 100 different images per set. And because Flickr power users tend to be on the cutting edge of tech culture, many of them began passing out the cards left and right and acting as unpaid evangelists.
And that's because users can personalize their cards as they choose, adding just about any kind of image and having as many different images as they want.
At the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference, many Second Life users are handing out the cards, with varied images of their avatars on the backs of the cards and a Second Life logo on the front.
"Moo cards make business cards less businessy," said Jeska Dzwigalski, community manager for Second Life publisher Linden Lab. "I love being able to show everyone my avatar and I can pack a whole bunch of them into my pocket before going to an event and let people pick their favorite picture."
Linden Lab is a Moo.com partner and receives a share of revenue from cards ordered by Second Life users.
While some Moo card users love the size, others--or those who receive them--sometimes feel that they are too small. At less than half the size of a normal business card, they can easily disappear into a pocket. That's why, even for many passionate users, they are often used more as personal calling cards rather than cards for professional purposes.
Yet despite that, Moo.com is shipping hundreds of thousands of the cards every week to 120 countries around the world, including China and even North Korea, said CEO Richard Moross.
Part of that is because users can customize their Moo Cards in any way they want, and can create many different versions of their cards. Befitting their becoming somewhat of a cultural icon, there is a Flickr pool with thousands of photos of people's cards displayed in a myriad artistic and personal ways.
Moo.com also hosts regular meet-ups of card users, looking for new ideas of what to do with the cards.
Further, they seem to have taken on a bit of a collectors' status as well. Moross said that he'd seen some for sale on the crafts marketplace, Etsy.com. A search there Thursday found several sets of Moo cards made into fridge magnets, as well as several custom Moo card carrying cases.
"We're a blank canvas," said Moross. "We're only as good as what our customers give us. We're not having the best ideas now. Our customers are. The thing we're doing right is we're listening."
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