While We're Talking Contact Management…

I mentioned a while ago that I was still carrying around an address book in my purse, and begged for suggestions for managing my contacts because things were getting totally out of hand. It’s been seven months since I wrote that post, and the situation has not improved! So I was excited to read the recent reviews of a couple of contact management apps by Imran Ali and Aliza Sherman.

I really like the look and features of ContactHero. As for Soocial, I didn’t play with it, but might be tempted to use their app for no reason other than the fact that they actually say “ungimp my contacts” and have a picture of David Hasselhoff in a Speedo on the WWD invite page, both of which made me laugh and got them points for nerve and verve.

But then I realized why I haven’t made that leap yet, and why I probably won’t.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned (well, when it comes to certain things, there’s no maybe about it), but I have to point out what I think is a fatal flaw in web-based contact management apps.

I am perfectly OK with storing information about myself, my projects, whatever, in the cloud. I take responsibility for what I might lose, or what might get into the hands of someone with wicked intent… I weigh the options and accept the risk. I don’t put clients’ material up there. It doesn’t belong to me. And I don’t feel at all comfortable putting someone else’s address, birthday, and kids’ names anywhere but on my computer… I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I have the right to make that call.

Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but has this minor ethical question crossed anyone else’s mind?

I’m a web worker like the rest of you, and my personal life is as Internet oriented as my professional life, but I don’t think it’s realistic or appropriate for us to expect the Internet to be a panacea. It’s not always the right solution.

So I have gone back to the drawing board and started looking again for a good, old-fashioned address book/contact management app I can download and install on my hard drive. So far, no luck. Of the apps I’ve looked at, the UIs are horrific and they just aren’t slick enough. (Note to developers: users are getting pretty demanding these days. We’re being spoiled by things that look and work beautifully, like iPods and anything Ajax…)

I don’t want a productivity tool, don’t need a calendar. I’ve got all that covered. All I want is a way to organize my contacts.

Is this too much to ask?

Can’t I have a desktop address book app that will allow me to enter and import data and scan a biz card if I feel like it (with OCR even)? One that will allow me to upload a photo? Schedule birthday and follow-up alerts? And I want it to be clean and pretty. I want dragging and dropping. Must have a “Notes” field where I can write the five Ws if necessary.

And I don’t want groups or categories, I want tags! Some of my contacts have to do with my translating, some with my tech writing, some with my blogging, some with my project (and within that category there are artists, investors, legal experts, developers, and more…). Many of my contacts are in one or more of those categories and they’re francophiles too. Sometimes I just need to reach the francophiles. (I’m serious.) I need tags. And can I have a widget too? I have a PC, but not for much longer…

Santa Claus ContactHero, please bring me an address book for my laptop. I’ve been mostly good.

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