Thursday, September 11, 2008

Portable Contacts- My Contacts, My Data

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I had put the Portable Contacts Summit on my calendar weeks ago when i first heard of it, then this morning i let the failed technology of my laptop (it officially hates me) and hosting service (my SynapticaCentral blog won't publish!) and the day to day grind get to me- so i looked at the invitation again and thought-Urgh can and should i really go?

The first i heard of Portable Contacts project was back in May at the Data Sharing Summit and Joseph Smarr already had a very compelling story to tell about the open standards he was proposing that provide users a secure way to access their address books and friends lists.

I posted on Twitter this morning "wishing i was at the Portable Contacts session today but it was clearly marked for programmers(my one fault in life ;-) and time is valuable"not because i didn't think that the day would be valuable if i went but because it was focused on developers, and i thought 1#what value would i bring 2#shouldn't i get these 55things i need to do for work done today?. Kevin Marks replied that "@danielabarbosa Shame, we'd love to have you here - it's not just programmers but data discussions too"but i had committed to my to do list by then and then thought all afternoon on how i would have rather been there. It is still a shame however- guess you can't call it right all the time!

To get an idea of what Portable Contacts is trying to achieve visit their website and read through the - About, Why Now?, Goals and Approach and current spec.

So-Why now you ask? from the site:

The momentum began building for 'data portability' last year, and we are now at a point where there is strong support for the principle that users should be in control of their data and have the freedom to access it from across the web. And the major players have all recognized that they and their users are better off with secure contacts APIs (rather than having third-party services ask for users' credentials in order to scrape their data). As a result, we're seeing major Internet companies making contacts APIs available, such as Google's GData Contacts API, Yahoo's Address Book API, and Microsoft's Live Contacts API (with more to come). Not surprisingly though, each of these APIs is unique and proprietary. We believe this creates the ideal conditions for developing a common, open spec that everyone can benefit from.

A couple write-ups are already available including John McCrea's Live blogging notes. At around 1pm John writes "
1:00 About to resume. Saw amazing discussions over lunch. I won’t name names, but some would be shocked by the various pairings of competitors breaking bread together"-
i always have that same feeling when i go to these sessions- and agree that is one of the reasons things get done. I look forward to learning more and looking at the recent specs from a user and vendor prescriptive.

This is of course interesting in regards to the work i do over at the DataPortablity Project- so i am sure that beyond me others in the project are interested in learning more and will be digging deeper on not only the technical but the user usability perspective. Because the bottom line is that the technology and the standards make it work- the user makes it part of their digital life.


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