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Business Card Forensics - Scott Adams' Blog

Business Card Forensics

Readers rated my Dilbert comic for December 11th among the worst ever. Based on the comments, apparently people didn’t think Dilbert’s snarky attitude was in character. I was aiming for socially inept, but I overshot the mark.

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-12-11

The point I was trying to make with the comic is that people routinely do forensics on business cards. For example, you can.

1. Google people’s name for news stories
2. Look people up on Facebook and other social sites
3. Do research on people’s employers
4. Estimate people’s incomes, and even personalities, based on job titles.

If a person has a business card with a phone number crossed off, and a new one written in, that can mean a number of things. It might mean he is so low on the corporate hierarchy that he can’t order new cards until the old ones are used up. Or maybe he’s more concerned about form over function. Maybe he’s just too busy to order new cards. Check the quality of his footwear to get a second opinion. If his shoes are comfortable and unfashionable, and his business card has a technical title, a pattern is starting to form.

My personal favorite form of business card forensics is judging the graphic design quality of the business card itself. The business cards of big corporations tell you nothing, but small business owners have the freedom to express themselves. A card that is clearly intended to look creative and memorable, but ends up looking monkey-done, tells you the person who designed it has no design talent, and probably doesn’t know it. That’s a bad combination.

If you know someone’s address, you can check out his house from a Google satellite picture. You can even find its approximate value on Zillow.com. If you know what college a person attended, you can make judgments (albeit often wrong) on that person’s career potential and intellectual capabilities. And for a few bucks, you can do an online search of criminal records.

We’re only a few years away from a point where no mating will ever occur because no one will pass the background check. If you knew everything about another person’s history, there would always be at least one show stopper. In a simpler time, you could fall in love before you found out any damning information about your partner. I’m not sure that was better.