I love that there’s an iPhone app that lets you exchange contact information just by bumping phones. But does this mean that business cards are becoming obsolete?

Business cards speak to me, especially when it comes to small businesses and solo practitioners. The paper, logo, design, and readability give me clues to a company’s personality and whether they have thought about that first impression. Whether someone does or doesn’t have a Web site and/or a customized e-mail address gives me some data about their permanence and their business sense. And please think twice before handing me a card with out-of-date information.

The Japanese have an entire ritual around business cards. While Americans are typically more informal, we might do well to probe the underlying reasons for the meishi exchange.

So what do you think? Do you decipher business cards or wish they’d go away?

On a related note, my friend Deborah Brody has a good post on business card dos and don’ts that has some common sense tips for making sure what you are handing out isn’t hindering your success.

[Note: This post originally appeared on IABC’s¬†Communications World blog.]