Analog Angle Article

We’re overwhelmed by addresses

I recently met a product marketing engineer who gave me his business card as part of our introduction. On the card was an array of alphanumeric codes: his office telephone number, cell phone number, fax number (he still has one, just in case!), Twitter address, Facebook ID, and numerous other numbers and addresses. In fact, he had to have some of them printed on the back of the card, since there wasn't enough room on the front.

I thought about this for a while, and realized that when our descendents look back at our period years from now, they'll chuckle at its crudeness. They may also be amazed that we were able to function, as we might look at someone who, somehow, someway, managed to type an entire book on a mechanical typewriter. So quaint, so charming, so crude and antiquated, they'll think, but hey, it was a transitional time, they'll say.

In the future, we'll all likely be assigned a single “contact ID” to be used for all forms of communication, and which will automatically be mapped to us via that address. Perhaps our “business cards”, if we still have them in some form, will have an RFID chip embedded with the relevant contact information. Or we'll just point our cell phone/smart phone at the other person's similar unit, and beam over the information. Maybe we'll all just have an RFID chip implanted in our bodies, to make the final link easier to implement.

I have read about similar services which are available today, but I have no idea how well they work, if at all. Even if they do work, there's a risk that a hacker can break in and either cut you off completely, or intercept all your communications and assume your identify. That's not a comforting thought.

Many years ago, I visited the faux Sherlock Holmes house at 226B Baker Street in London. (I call it “faux” because there was no such actual address and house, but Holmes' fans have faithfully created one nearby, based on descriptions in the stories.) One souvenir I got there was Holmes' presumed business card, which simply has his name and his flat address. That's it, period. What a stark contrast to our situation.

Perhaps the ultimate in simplicity is in the anecdotal story I read about Akio Morita, cofounder of Sony Corp. According to this tale, his business card just had his name on it, and nothing else. Surely that's a nice, clean way to make a clear, unambiguous “don't call us, we'll go you” statement! ♦

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