As a resident futurist, I’m paid a paltry sum to predict things. But I typically do better than the schleps over at legal marketing and technology blog Lawyerist, who posed this question recently: Lawyers, Is It Time to Toss Your Business Cards? First of all, the answer is yes. Just yes, and most competent lawyers already knew this. But, unlike the novitiates over at Lawyerist, it’s not because of AOL, MySpace, and other more passe social media like Twitter and Quora. It’s because of a recent shift in focusing on “uber” social media, which combines the sensuality of human skin with a conscious desire for too much information. The future of lawyer business cards? The tattoo.
Already, QR Code tattoos are making an impact on legal professionals. At the recent ABA Tech Show, I witnessed Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Ed Walters of Fastcase, and Brian Tannebaum of Tannebaum Weiss taking pictures of each others’ QR codes in the men’s bathroom. I witnessed the same thing in the women’s bathroom. Why in the bathroom? One, obviously the location of QR code tattoos have not yet made it north of the ass, for reasons I don’t quite understand but likely related to general modesty. Two, as early adopters, professionals using QR code tattoos are decidedly an exclusive bunch and have not yet announced that it is the next big thing. The notion of exclusivity, however, will change, particularly now that a futurist like me has blogged about it.
Obviously, given the permanence of a tattoo, you need to be careful about the information you include on it. QR codes, however, redirect the end user to a web page, which gives you the flexibility to change that web page at any time, as well as make it interactive. This satisfies folks like Lisa Solomon, who commented on Lawyerist that she has to send out an email to people from whom she gets business cards, a real drag. A QR code tattoo on Lisa’s shoulder can do that automatically, and then some. There will be challenges, however, for lawyers in large firms with QR code tattoos, as the tattoo will no longer be accurate when you leave the firm. Think about that carefully before you get a Latham & Watkins tattoo emblazoned on your ankle or bicep.
I recognize that tattoos are taboo in a number of cultures, so understand that these limitations exist and that not all professionals will have a business card tattoo on their butts or forearms. Scarification may work as an alternative, as well as temporary henna cards. A new service known as ScreechCard also provides what it calls an “aural” business card. Push a button and a screech-like sound similar to the sound of dialup will beam your contact information to any smart phone within a 50 foot area (because of this, I actually predict that dial-up will make a comeback in the near future).
The business card is made of an outdated wood-based material that started out as pulp. Toss it. Go to your local tattoo parlor and ask about their QR code tattoo features. If they don’t currently produce QR code tattoos, consider a tattoo that artfully reproduces your business card. You can always add the QR code later. Good luck, and send us pictures of what you end up doing.