Friday, June 16, 2006

so what's the big deal with a corrupted address book?

In an earlier post I commented on AddressBook and Entourage and the saga of the duplicated records. All is good again. I finally have iSync behaving again after disconnecting Entourage from an Exchange Server. So I have had some contemplation time. So what is the big deal with a corrupted address book. Well you see the issue is that your address book can become an important component in our personal identity confirmation sub-system. This may be a quirk of mine, but I keep a not in my address book of where people have previously worked and when or where I met them. This helps me to put someone in some sort of context. LinkedIn works in a similar way. You build a web of connections many of which may be colleagues in a past life with which you share a common connection. In the absence of a social security number, a copy of their passport our own address book becomes an inferred validation mechanism. When you think about your contact information in this light it takes on a new significance. I think back to work I have done in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity and some of the most important data companies and individuals have is their contact information. One client of mine was prevented from getting to their offices for three days as a result of a terrorist bomb incident. Their office was intact and they were allowed to be escorted in for 30 minutes to recover whatever critical data they needed. They were only allowed to hand carry whatever they needed. What did they choose to take? They grabbed every address book they could find. With that information they could stay in contact with clients, vendors, employees etc. When I think back on that event I realise how crucial identity and associated contact information is to the core of every company and to us as individuals. The critical importance of Identity means it is a very big deal that we as individuals are currently scattering personal facts about ourselves randomly across tens , if not hundreds of sites across the Internet. If you want to put the scale of the challenge in perspective try this simple exercise. Go to the History panel in your web browser and just scan through the sites you have accessed in the last few days. Then think about how many of those sites you have to be registred in order to use the site. How many of those sites have you had to provide more than just your name and email address. I bet most of them at least want to know your town/city or zip code. And I bet you had to choose a password. Count these up. How many sites have you scattered your personal information amongst? 5, 10 , 50, more? It gives you pause for thought, doesn't it!

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