The year we failed to make contact

Not so very long ago I had an address book. Yes, it was small and black, but the point is that it was a physical collection of all the people I knew and wanted to stay in contact with. (It wouldn’t surprise me if it was still lurking in a packing crate somewhere.)

Then came technology.

All those contacts were dutifully copied in to my Nokia 6310i. Then to my Palm Tungsten T3. From there in to my Nokia N95. Finally, to my various iPods, iPad Minis and now my iPhone, via iCloud.

Which is all well and good, but how do I connect Thunderbird to iCloud? And, since I’m migrating from Thunderbird to Outlook (2013 – turns out I had a copy) how do I connect iCloud to Outlook?

Well… you can’t. You can export from one to another – but not easily. It’s not a case of exporting one file of 100+ contacts from iCloud and importing them in to Outlook.

Which means I now have all my contacts in iCloud… and Outlook 2013. And Windows Contacts. And some in Thunderbird. And I have an outlook.com account as well, again with its own contacts book.

And, of course, in LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Where I also have lots of direct emails which can’t be exported to reside with all my other emails (you can get a download of everything from Facebook but it’s just one long file). I can connect some of these address books together on my iDevices but they aren’t merged and synced, just available on that device only.

There is a certain irony as well that, while I prefer my own emails to site-specific messaging, most of my written contact with one of my closer friends is via Facebook Messaging, LinkedIn Mail or Twitter Direct Messages – not via her gmail account.

We often worry about information overload and how we can cut through the noise to filter out what’s important and what isn’t. I suggest that the real problem is remembering on which platform you had the conversation with in the first place, with whom and what the best email address for them is.

And as for calendars… sheesh. Why can’t I connect all these things together, platform- and device-independent, under my own control?

I can get part of the way. I just need to buy a Raspberry Pi, install some software and learn a new programming language. But that only solves the subscribed calendars and contacts issue. Still, it would be a start. And I’ve nothing else on the horizon.

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