Why I cant see e-cards ever catching on

Christmas Cards have become a marketing wheeze fuelled largely by guilt, with little relevance to the religious implications of the festival. But even they are better than this sort of thing.

Cheap graphics and audio, uninteresting idea with no relevance at all to Christmas, constant sales reminders from the charity, no personalisation (you have received a Christmas Card from the staff of…). Although addressed to my email address, so it knows my name, the software cant even manage a Dear David… substitution.

All done by processing one client database, and no doubt paying a fee for giving the charity an opportunity to market itself to us. I suspect that I am now on their junk email lists for ever.

Why not make it a game? or tell me something about the charitys work? or offer me some useful data or programmes? Or even (perish the thought…) some Biblical texts, or a really good high-resolution graphic, say an image from Giottos Scrovegni Chapel, which is what is on my few personal (physical) Christmas cards?

I dont really mind if I dont get a physical card from my companys suppliers. We send them out to our clients, but to named individuals, with personal signatures, and often personal messages, because they are mostly people we like and want to rememebr at Christmas. But I dont think they really mind, or notice, if they dont get one from us.

Ecards really need a web service: I put up my card inbox, you send ecards to it, and on 25 December the web service says you have received 16 ecards.

An intelligent web service could even compare the receipts against my contacts list, or against last years cards, and see who had NOT sent me one. That might be useful information: I would know to change my accountant because he didnt care enough to send me a card. (Never mind that he is a good accountant.) The web service could even prepare a personalised email for me to send, sacking him, and find and sign up a new accountant in my area. And I would not have to read any of the ecards.

The other problem is that we seem to have slipped into a state where we dont like to say anything Christian at Christmas, in case it offends someone, but we still want the festival, largely so people can sell more things to us. It has become what Baudrillard calls actualite: a sign signifying nothing. .

Bah, humbug, as an earlier Scrooge said.

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