Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Per-Plaxo question

Mr. Len. writes

I've seen several people at my school and elsewhere in the past months trying to use Plaxo to keep my info up to date in their address book. I didn't trust Plaxo with my data, though wondered whether I'm the only one so paranoid. Here's an interesting article that echoes some of my concerns and reviews several potential alternatives.

Yesterday I read a similar post from some VC about Plaxo. The basic question everyone is raising is that it is not clear how they plan to make money, and until it is clear noone should trust them with their contact info.

Of course, I already replied to somene's request, which I now sort of regret.

Few weeks ago I was looking for a book in one of my boxes and came upon a "product plan" I created with a team of people I no longer remember for the OPIM 210 class. It was that calendaring and scheduling idea. I seem to have gotten both the comptetetive landscape as well as features required right. The prof. whom I otherwise liked a great deal, did not think it was a particularly good idea. I got a B. I think he was wrong then, and I see that noone has yet created a similar product. I think the time for such a product to be developed by a small company has passed, but I am still proud of that plan. I
think it showed a lot more understanding of the internet and software than I have now.

This brings me to my next thought. MovableType is a leader in the
weblog publishing space. It is also free, sort-of open source product. The team that created movabletype has now created a service called typepad.com that hosts movabletype weblogs and has some additional features for easier management of multiple weblogs and stuff. Many serious users use it and really like it. However, the reason this service is successful is because the free MovableType product was open-sourced and developed a fairly large following and a large library of free add-onds. This contact information subcategory seems ripe for a serious open-source product that would run by individual users. You could run a server and service just like Plaxo would, except by virtue of beign free and of being run by you I would trust it a bit more. A web of trust can be formed and so on. Eventually, if it got big enough someone might run a commercial service on top of the free software to charge for the upkeep of the servers or provide some additional value-added services. However, privacy implications would not be so scary because there is an open-source foundation and alternative for all users. That would limit abuse and add transparency to the actions of these commercial operators.


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