Monday, September 22, 2008

Unified Contacts - NOW Please

So I've been working with various social media sites for over 2 months now - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Rejaw, Tumblr and I've also been using the hell out of my iPhone (yes, I'm one of those fanboy types who is not having any problems with my phone).

All in all, it's pretty cool. Except for one thing - my profiles. I have profiles on different sites and keeping them up to date can be a pain. It's sort of like keeping track of people when they move, change jobs, or get married and their contact information changes.

I have a copy of their email address and physical address and phone number in my email program, on my phone, and in a Christmas list database. For the contacts that both my wife and I know - she has a copy in her email program, her phone and probably written in her "big black daytimer" as well.

None of these things talk to one another.

What if I update my information? Then I would send out an email to the people I know, update all the social networking sites - and just HOPE that people that I know would even notice that I moved or got a new phone number or a new email address.

And, if you're like me - when you go to a meeting where you meet new people - you carry all your pertinent information on a little 2" x 3" scrap of paper known as a business card. The crappy part is - so does everyone else.

Then, after the event, you get to take those 20 little scraps of paper (sometimes with notes on it - like personal email addresses or a note about the person) and then I get to hand key that information back into my address book. And then find them on LinkedIn. And Facebook. And Twitter. And Rejaw. And Tumblr.

Then I go to the next person - and repeat.

Surly in 2008 - there must be a better way! I'm looking for some digital solution that would allow people to exchange basic contact information with social media sites, and have that data synchronize across my address book to my phone.

It would contain my basic information (like on a Facebook profile) - and allow me to specify what I would share with whom (name and company for strangers, mobile phone for family and selected friends, etc.). Then it would just automatically synch with anyone that has me marked as a friend (or follower or whatever).

I would have just a single place to update my stuff, and I would know that everyone that is linked to me has the most up to date information all the time. And, I would also know that everyone I'm linked TO is up to date as well.

As long as I'm dreaming, I would also put in my preferred method of contact (email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) and I would be able to update my profile at any time to remove information (I didn't mean to publish my mobile phone number to everyone) and it would just automatically be removed from everyone's data store as well.

The technology exists. It shouldn't be THAT hard to do. The issue (like any other technology) would come down to one of adoption. Adoption of not just the people with the connections - but to people like handset makers who could build in a "update profile" button on their contact management apps, or software developers of either browsers, social media sites and email programs to all write to and read from a set of specifications.

Yeah, good luck on that! I guess I'll just re-order my business cards now....

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