Update: Cards@fullcontact.com is no longer available as FullContact has integrated this into all of their consumer applications. The simplest approach to doing this is now FullContact CardReader.
There are some things I wish would just go away forever. Business cards are one of those things. I stopped carrying them several years ago and simply give people my email address (email@example.com) as my primary contact data. But at the end of every day I have a handful of cards to deal with. Sometimes it is one or two; often it is a big pile.
Yesterday I was at the Xconomy Big Data Conference in Boston. I was the lead off keynote speaker so I decided to spend my 30 minutes doing a rant on Big Data that I started off with the line “Big Data is Bullshit.” It was fun for me and I hope useful for the 500 people in the audience.
I ended up with 20+ business cards from people who I talked to in between sessions. During the afternoon, I took a photo of each of them with my iPhone, emailed the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org, and then tossed the card in the trash. I now have a photo of my card on my iPhone and due to the magic of the FullContact CardShark API the data was automagically turned into a vCard and a Google contact. I got emails back with each card, clicked one button on the email, and voila the contact data was in my Gmail Contacts data.
My friends at FullContact talk about how they do this in their post If Only CardMunch Were An API… Oh Yes We Did!. When CardMunch first came out I was a happy user. I struggled some with quality, but put up with it because it was better than the alternative. I stopped using it about six months ago due to reliability and the overly tight integration with LinkedIn at the exclusion of other approaches.