Friday, January 18, 2008

In defense of name badges

In his post Social in Real Space vs. Social Networking, Chris Brogan made some valid points about how pre-gathering online networking can benefit you when you end up physically present in a First Life situation.

I’m betting almost everyone in that room had a web presence. It would have been cool to have access to their web presence ahead of time.

While Chris is correct, and there certainly are technologies (Oracle OpenWorld Connect comes to mind) that can facilitate such preparation, I ended up commenting about a very low-tech solution to physical networking.

However, the solution that I proposed is controversial. Just ask students in Sandy, Oregon:

Students organized another protest in response to an idea from board member Randy Carmony that students could wear name badges with their school ID numbers. According to Sarah Young, the student government’s community liaison, the suggestion particularly angered the students.

“We were all just furious sitting there in the meeting,” Young said. “We see it almost like a dictatorship.”

Young and like-minded students scrambled to send text messages to as many Sandy High School students’ cell phones as possible in hopes of organizing a late-notice protest.

Well, it's good that when we grow up, we lose that silly antipathy toward name badges. Or maybe not.

Her lips are painted red and her face is turned up to Hank Williams, his brother. Her bloodshot brown eyes glow a bright red with her black mascara running down both glistening cheeks, stained with the marks of tears. All he can see in his Goddess'--TRAILER PARK QUEEN'S—face is terrible pain and confusion. She is wearing her white button-up work shirt, with a slightly less obvious ketchup stain on her perky and petite right breast. Her white name tag, clipped to her left breast, is crooked.

And residents in a Utah community feel like they're back in school:

The H.O.A. board at Ventana Lakes recently approved a new badge policy requiring residents and guests to wear name tags in community common areas such as lakes, swimming pools, parks and the recreation center.

"It feels like they're treating us like we're second graders," [Joe] McCord said. "We are not second graders. We are grown-up people. We're perfectly capable of making decisions, whether or not to wear a badge."

And we'll hold our breath if they make us wear these things! Nyah nyah!

But it's not only the case that name badge wearers are trailer park trash being controlled by a fascist regime. They're also lying, cheating murderers.

Police say the fast food lovers conspired to commit murder. Police say they tried, but failed to kill the woman's husband with a poisoned sandwich.

It’s a love triangle that nearly turned deadly at the drive thru. In a love triangle, at least two members need to know what's going on. In this case it involves suspected rat poison and a McChicken sandwich....

Until last week, [Patricia Valandingham and Christopher Stephens] worked at the new Olive Hill McDonalds. That’s where police say Stephens, working the drive thru window, had an eye drop bottle filled with suspected rat poison. Police say when Stephens saw Valandingham's husband in the drive thru window, he put the poison on a McChicken sandwich....

The police report says Stephens was having an intimate relationship with Renee Valandingham....

Valandingham was booked as Patricia. Police say she had Renee on her McDonald’s name tag....

Police say when presented with the evidence and statements, Christopher Stephens basically admitted the crime. When they picked her up, Renee or Patricia Valandingham told police, “I've been waiting for you.”

Anyway, back to Brogan. This is what I said. This is what Ontario Emperor said:

I am a name badge geek....Where appropriate, readable name badges in which both the name and the affiliation are prominently listed are essential to allowing people to connect easily.

Yes, I recognize that name badges are extremely uncool. But you don't have to be a non-trendy person such as myself to appreciate the value in them.

When you're at a conference which by definition includes a lot of strangers, name badges are an excellent way to locate the people to whom you wish to speak. For example, if you're interested in database software, you're going to want to find the people who are using or selling database software. And once you've found them, you need to remember who they were. I am terrible with names, and name badges are a definite help in those situations in which you barely know the person, or if you haven't seen the person in years.

Confession: when I was at the Oracle OpenWorld blogger event, I spent some time sitting with two gentlemen who were very engaging and very knowledgeable about all things Oracle. Unfortunately, since the blogger event was an after-hours meetup, they weren't wearing their name badges. And I'm not the person who's going to ask, "Um...who are you?" (I know that neither of them was Larry Ellison, but I'd be willing to bet that they were equally famous in the database community.) Name badges definitely would have helped there.

Incidentally, you might have noticed that my comment to Chris Brogan included words such as "readable" and "prominently." My eyesight is not the best, and a name badge isn't going to do anyone any good if your name and your affiliation is printed in 12 point type.

So, if you're at a networking event, and you're given a name badge, wear it proudly. It's for your own benefit.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content