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Fire in the Belly

My pet projects seem to choose themselves, as if I had nothing to do with it. Yesterday, one sunk its teeth into me and won't let go. Tenacious little bugger.

Maybe I should say my muse gave me a present for New Year's. But it doesn't feel like that. When a project like this, no matter how small, takes hold, there's little else you can do. You can't enjoy sitting with a cup of coffee and a book. You can't enjoy working out, or watching a video. You're compelled to explore the idea.

This time, the project came from a comment that Sjon Svenson left in my last entry, Happy Birthday, Me. I got you data portability.

I was happy that I'd completed the migration of my contacts to Google Contacts, but Sjon mentioned that a hardcopy of his contacts survived an electronic device failure, and the hardcopy is the version that the whole family maintains now.

The beauty of that is that my brother can update that just as well, and his wife can -and does-.


That is really handy. So it's something that I'm going to implement across my family's Google Contacts accounts. We'll use the tags to designate with whom we want to share the contacts, and only those will be synced across accounts. Everybody will benefit from the improvements anybody else makes. It'll also keep a history of changes, in case changes or merges were incorrect.

It's very similar to a private wiki, or a shared Docs page, but it's important that this is done directly to the contacts that get synced to all of our mobile devices, too.

It seems like a pretty obvious project. If there's already an open source project for this, or if this is already your 20% project, leave me a comment.

[Update 2011-01-03]: Drat. The proper way to do this, with OAuth and the contacts stream in the official feed won't work. It doesn't enumerate all the fields available when you export contacts. I can still do what I want as a one-off, because I can have my script get the exported CSV values from the accounts I need access to, but I dearly hate code that scrapes or otherwise does actions meant for humans. I wish Google provided (or made apparent how to get) all the data, every single field, for each contact in the API's feed.