"I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better."
Post by Vince Crumrine:
A Modern Address Book
Why has the address book remained relatively stagnant in a world where new, innovative forms of technology are emerging at an unprecedented rate? There are hundreds of applications being submitted to the iTunes App Store. Every. Single. Day. And with that comes new ways to communicate, new networks to inhabit and new presences to maintain. Why have so many attempts to facilitate and organize our world gone unnoticed? And why have so many attempts to “revolutionize” our approach to the address book routinely failed?
First, I think we have to take a closer look as to what our address book really is. And what it has always, and should always, serve to do.
The address book is a simple thing with a simple goal. It’s not some artificial attempt to humanize your information. It’s not some formulaic attempt to aggregate the known universe. Your Rolodex is not an algorithm. Your friends and family are not equations. The address book is your gateway to your contacts. It’s the promise of instant communication. It’s contextual. It’s real. It is important to understand that your contacts are not some technical achievement or some de facto feature of the address book – Your contacts are the address book. They are a representation of the people of which you’ve shared experiences or have a mutual understanding. Contacts are not acquired. Your address book is not a hostile takeover.
When I entered college I had 80 names and numbers in my address book. Over four years that number grew to 200. I wasn’t assigned 120 friends when I got there. I earned them. I made new friends and developed new relationships. Sometimes I wrote down the wrong name or number and sometimes their numbers changed, but at least I knew why they were there – we wanted to stay in touch. No algorithm decided that for us. We did. Through genuine and contextual experiences, one day we decided that we would exchange details. You wouldn’t use Facebook if it came pre-populated with 500 “friends”. You wouldn’t use Twitter if it came pre-assembled with 3,000 voices cluttering your feed. So why would you use an address book that came pre-packaged with thousands of contacts you may or may not want to stay in touch with – whom you’ve never shared a genuine and contextual experience? You wouldn’t.
Technology wants to make life easier or more pleasant and work more productive. By it’s very definition, Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, or achieve a goal. And that’s where attempts to create a modern address book have failed: Achieve a goal. It seems somewhere along the way, during the pursuit of convenience, the goal of the address book was forgotten – what it has always, and should always, serve to do. The goal is not having many contacts. The goal is having many, meaningful contacts. The modern address book will make this possible, in a convenient way.