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Take control of your contact information

A recent article by Doc Searls talks about how today’s social networks are getting out of user’s control (link). He gives an excellent example of how his contacts are spread across 8-10 different social sites, web applications, desktop/mobile applications, etc. His stats: 840 on Facebook, 480 on LinkedIn, 212 on Flickr, 1352 on Twitter, 1162 on the computer address book, several hundred in chat client, 50 in skype, etc. The bottom line is, his contacts are not in one place, and more importantly, he is not in control of them. I am sure most of you can relate to this problem. He states:

I am not yet.. the point of integration for my own data. In fact I can’t be, because most of the data in these “social networks” is not mine. Functionally, it’s theirs.

This we feel is the fundamental problem with today’s social networks. They are each trying to manage your social network, whereas it should be you who should be in control of your own social network.

Doc further states:

I would rather have my own way of keeping personal information straight with myself, and sharing it selectively and when I felt like it. … the idea they share is that each of us, as sovereign individuals, are … the best points of integration for our own data. None of these social sites, no matter how well-intended they may be, can do the job, simply because nothing, and nobody, can be personal for me on my behalf. If puppets are involved, they need to be mine. Not the reverse.

Let us look at your contact information to further Doc’s point of view here. Your contact information today most likely has a mobile phone number, a work mobile number, maybe a home landline number, a personal email, a work email, a Twitter ID, a Facebook ID, maybe a Flickr ID for sharing fotos, and the list goes on. Who would be the person with the best knowledge of all of this information?  Thats right, that person has to be you! Let us now assume for a minute that you change your mobile number. Who is in control of the change and who knows the new number first? Thats right, its you again! Clearly you are the best person to manage your data. Similarly, your contacts are the best person to manage their own contact information. However, today, you are managing all of your contact’s data yourself! If a contact changes their mobile number, its you, instead of them, who updates that information in your address book. You are keeping your own address books updated in your computer/mobile address book and across these social sites, that leads to the address book fragmentation that Doc talks about.

We believe there are two steps to reach a solution to this problem:

  1. Each individual should manage and be in control of their personal information such as their contact information
  2. Each individual should engage with other individuals, businesses and institutes and selectively share their personal information

Translated in practical terms this means: First, you manage your own contact information in one place. Second, you build your address book by connecting with others and sharing some of your contact information. Third, you share your address book selectively with various websites. You will then truly be the point of integration of your own data. Others you engage with will only get a view of  your data that you want them to view, giving you complete control.

Doc mentions that he is looking for something similar:

What I crave is independence, and better ways of engaging — ones that are mine and not just theirs. Ones that work across multiple services in consistent ways. Ones that let me change my data with all these services at once, if I want to.

At myContactID, we are building a service that puts you in control of your information and gives you independence from captive websites. It is after all your information!

Doc ends the article with:

The message I’m bringing is … how we now need to prove something we’ve known all along: that free customers are more valuable than captive ones.

We do hope this message resonates with businesses soon and we are looking forward to proving it with myContactID users who are already enjoying the freedom!

Do check us out at http://www.theContactID.com and sign up for a beta invite!

Regards,

The myContactID team.

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