A Safe Place for Personal Contacts

The members of my family are fortunate in our friends.

We are reminded of this fact every year when we send and receive hundreds of holiday cards. Last year, however, we didn’t send out even one card. This change was not due to new hermit tendencies. And it certainly was not intended to be a repudiation of our friends. Rather, it was a reflection of our technological paralysis.

For years we kept our contacts in a prehistoric database housed in series of PCs. However, we’ve since seen the light and moved on to a Mac. Further the vendor of the contacts manager we’ve used since the mid-90s no longer supports the software, and there isn’t even a prehistoric Mac version available for purchase.

So now we have to move our contacts, but don’t know the destination. The cloud seems like an obvious choice. However, using which application? And, how do we ensure that the privacy of our friends is fully protected? Which application and service provider is least likely to mimic Facebook by unilaterally changing the privacy settings? Which provider is least likely to sell the data or use it for other unauthorized commercial purposes? And, whether or not you believe Google is evil, should I give Google complete access to all my contacts?

This post is a request for advice. What should my family do?

[Photo Credit: Bertop]

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5 thoughts on “A Safe Place for Personal Contacts

  • June 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm
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    Contacts are probably something you want to keep close: both because they are so important and because you don't want to Facebook them by mistake. That said, sticking them up on the cloud could be a nice way to back them up – that's essentially what I do: every once in a while I will copy my local contacts database up to GMail, though it is mainly for services that use my GMail addresses for the inevitable “are any of your friends on our service” queries.

    The key thing you need: Can you import and export your contacts via a standard format, such as VCard or a flat text file that can be read by other software. My wife just dumped her Palm Pilot for a iPod Touch and it was easy to convert the basic data (but not the categories) via Palm Desktop export.

  • June 5, 2010 at 12:12 am
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    Doug –

    It's a frustrating problem. I can't believe that we're the only ones
    facing it. Perhaps we need to spread the word more widely. Surely
    someone in our network has a solution.

    – Mary

    VMaryAbraham
    AboveandBeyondKM.com

  • June 5, 2010 at 2:27 am
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    Thanks for the good advice, Jack. Can you recommend software that does a
    good job of organizing personal contacts for family use? What local
    contacts database do you use?

    – Mary

  • June 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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    I read your post as talking about managing them in general. This issue of sharing contacts with your family is difficult, as Doug says. One option (possibly the only one) is to do an infrequent “contact swap” between family members.

    However, even that doesn't work too well. I have over 2000 contacts in my main system (Outlook) – I would hate to dump all those on my wife. Fortunately, outlook lets me filter by category. Interestingly, Apple's default address book doesn't seem to have that capability.

    Jack

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