Why Stickers are My New Business Card

With the memory of OpenWorld fading, I wanted to riff on one thing I noticed and found interesting last week.

Stickers, or rather the lack of them.

Rich and and I whipped up a last-minute plan to produce some stickers right before OpenWorld, and many of you were the beneficiaries last week. I added the AppsLab sticker to my Macbook, which is getting crowded pretty fast. Rich, Matt and Raimonds were among the others who had sticker-adorned laptops, but we were in the minority.

Most people at the conference had naked laptops, or if a sticker appeared, it was an asset tag, natch. Not at all surprising because most people had their work computers with them, but also because the conference was a serious business conference and not the place for childish stickers.

Or so my wife would have me believe. She teased me for putting stickers on my Macbook, but how else can I tell our otherwise identical Macbooks apart when they’re sitting on the table? I tend to have that problem when I go to other geeky meetups or conferences because, well, Macbooks are common among geeks.

The lack of stickers on laptops and as giveaway chochkies on the show floors got me thinking about why we adorn our laptops. I think for me and other geeks, the laptop is another appendage, and beyond the ability to find it in a crowded room, it’s a great place to show your support for your favorite geeky tool or cause or hobby or whatever.

We love our computers, and stickers provide tattoos to personalize them. The comparison to tattoos fits because my guess is it’s pretty hard to get rid of a sticker you don’t want any more.

Stickers seem to be marginalized now, but I think that like Web 2.0, the next year will bring them into the mainstream as must-haves for your favorite appendage, erm your laptop.

I did get some funny looks at OpenWorld while sporting my stickered-out Macbook. It does stand out in the crowd of gray Dells and Thinkpads and, dare I say, the undecorated, silver Macbook Pros? That’s fine by me, and I’m betting next year, there will be more Macs and more stickers at OpenWorld. The question is how much real estate for new ones I’ll have by then.

I’ve also noticed the sticker is becoming a replacement for the business card, at least in some circles. People have noticed the trend toward stickering the laptop and have taken advantage. What better way to show your support for your favorite Open Source project or company? Anyone else want a Twitter sticker?

Another reason the sticker beats the business card for me is because I can’t keep a current business card. I move or change jobs too often to keep it current. I still have 450 or so of the 500-card box I got several years ago; since I got them, about 75% of the information has changed. And yet I still have them because if I were wasteful, I’d have about 2,000 useless cards.

The sticker, on the other hand, forces brevity. It provides the essential information and a logo. Maybe a URL. Ever see a fax number on a sticker? Me neither.

I’m not saying the sticker will replace the business card. I just think it’s a viable competitor, especially with people like me, who are likely to stick it somewhere useful versus in a drawer, in a laptop bag, etc.

Ever lose a business card? Those suckers are small, and I’m constantly fishing them out from under my desk. Sure the same can be said for a sticker, unless it’s stuck to something.

What do you think? My guess is most of you who read here and comment will be pro-sticker. Prove me wrong in the comments.




  1. I've been thinking about permanently moving to QR codes (http://invx.com/) for my “business card” that way I can have it point to a single URL and change my info as needed. The nice thing is that even the iPhone has reader apps for them available. I forget who, but someone actually makes iron on patches for your stuff in the form of QR codes.

    Thanks to Rich for the Github and AppsLab stickers.

  2. While I do want a sticker I don't think I want it for my laptop. Feels a bit like a bumper sticker to me which I also don't want on my car. Guess I'm not a real geek.

  3. Cool is relative. I didn't have my name mentioned every other minute at OOW. You should get Norris World stickers printed.

  4. Stickers are for everyone, e.g. my wife thinks I'm a giant dorky child for putting stickers on my Macbook. A bit like bumper stickers, which I won't put on my car, but my laptops are like additional limbs, so it's OK. Like tattoos.

  5. It occurs to me that stickers, used in the manner you describe, constitute a real-world version of tagging. It's a life-hack: a half-dozen stickers affixed to one's laptop can provide a simple, visual means of communicating areas of interest or expertise. And stickers on a laptop can eliminate the need to wear regrettable t-shirts.

  6. I'll succumb to the snail mail if you will. Remember SASE? I struggled for years to know what that was.

    I definitely want an appslab sticker…so I'll look into getting mine done too.

  7. Had to look it up (thanks 'tubes), but yeah, those were the days. We plan to try Sticker Genie for our next batch to get vinyl; on short notice, we had to go paper. They're nice, but vinyl is shiny.

    I like shiny things.

  8. When I was consulting I used to collect stickers from the clients I worked at and I would put them on my laptop. I stopped when I had a laptop issue and had to turn it into IT. They were kind of pissed…

  9. Exactly why I sticker my personal Macbook. 1) I won't have to start over unless it totally dies, in which case, I have bigger problems and 2) I don't have to deal with IT.

    I doubt it's a major deal unless your h/w is pretty new. Most of us have the same work laptop for most of its amortizable life, so repurposing isn't a huge deal. Still, I prefer to steer clear.

  10. So, the question must be asked – what tattoos do you have? Perhaps we need an Oracle tattoo gallery on AppsLab or Connect?

  11. How about a big AppsLab across my chest in six inch letters? That do it for you? A tattoo galley would be both interesting and creepy, mostly creepy 🙂

  12. Possibly NSFW as well!

    I guess I was just picking up on the simile you used. Stickers on laptops and bumpers are similar to tattoos on people (although the latter are generally WAY more permanent). But they do serve the purpose of social tagging in the same way.

    Plus, the acceptability and variety of each has changed a lot through the recent years. So maybe your stickered laptop is like an early-adopter tattooed person. You are shunned by polite society today (at a metaphorical level), but you are also the trendsetter. Before you know it, everyone's mother will have stickers on her laptop.

    OK – probably stretched that thought way too far. I'll shelve my idea for http://tattoogallery.blogs.oracle.com

  13. Yeah, while I was thinking about this topic, the similarities did occur to me. It's a pretty accurate comparison. I suppose the sticker crowd will shun them if/when they hit the mainstream, typical cycle.

    The emergence of business-y stickers will be funny.

  14. When I used to go to (and work at) a lot of concerts, teh selection of the T-Shirt to wear was a very delicate thing. Wearing a T Shirt of the band you were watching is a no no, you can make a case for a really old one to show you liked them in the early days before all the other bozos around you had heard of them. Ideally you need to find a slightly obscure band that the coolest followers of the band you're going to see will have heard of and will think are cool. Frankly it's a wonder I ever got out of the house with all this to think about.

    Geek Sticker Chic is similar – so at the Next conference when AppsLab is more famous than say ValleyWag (to pick a random example), those stickers won't be so cool anymore and it won't work saying 'yeah but I liked the early AppsLab before they sold out'

  15. Funny, I made reference to that very example at OOW, i.e. don't be the guy wearing the shirt of the band to the concert. Famous for me from PCU, an underrated flick.

    I think we'll go for a vinyl sticker, similar to Rich's original design (and the new logo), next time. So, if you're in possession of the original paper version, circa 2008, you will always be cool.

    Frankly, I'd like to have that “before they sold out” problem.

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