Calling cards

I’ve previously blogged to the effect that the government could save an estimated £3.5bn by hanging the national ID card off the back of Blockbuster’s membership scheme. The proof of ID and residency required for the latter is rather more onerous than the Government could get away with themselves anyway.

So that’s the financial problem solved: what about the hearts & minds?

I just mentioned to a colleague that whenever email arrives from her, my email system makes a specific, personal chime. ‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ she mused, ‘if that happened whenever you walked into a room?’

She might be on to something. We already have personalised ringtones on mobile phones, business cards, and email signatures – it’s not a large step to having a personal announcement chime. It could be the next evolution of the calling card, and offering it on the government’s ID cards could be a big win.

Suppose they played a chime every time they wafted past an RFID scanner – how cool would that be? You could enter your favourite nightclub to the James Bond theme, play ‘our song’ as you walked over the threshold of your beloved’s apartment, and be all Match of the Day as you joined mates in the pub for the footie.

I think people would be all over this, and we’d finally have a practical reason not just for registering for an ID card, but for carrying it with us – which is obviously the government’s intention, whatever they say.

Problem solved. Again. I should hire myself out as a policy wonk.


  1. I’m afraid you’re not thinking like an average person. Close your eyes and imagine what will happen when an entire demographic group picks the Crazy Frog as their personal jingle.

  2. This would differ from rail travel today how, precisely?

  3. I did something very like this in IRC with Jibot – you can define yourself by talking to the bot, and when you join the room it heralds you by repeating it. The subversive part is that other people can define you too. Have a look at #joiito on for more.
    We did make a real-world counterpart of this for eTech 2 years ago – David Beckemeyer put together an RFID card based system so we could walk past a reader as we entered the session, and a computer would read our definitions via text-to-speech.

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