I came across a box of old business cards from the days I was afreelance writer and editor (7-10 years ago I think). There's probably200 very outdated business cards in there, some famous, somenot-so-famous, some not-famous-anymore, some too-famous-to-remember-me,all in IT business one way or another and most during the heyday of thefirst Internet boom. I'll mention some of the companies not names:dimensionX, network99, TurboLinux, RandomNoise, WebLogic, Sendmail.com,Axcess magazine, Axil Computer, Net-It Software, Artisoft, MaxSpeed,dozens of book and magazine publishers. The funny thing is that I canstill remember a lot of these meetings that I've had. I keep themaround as a sort of memorabilia, I guess.
About two or more years ago, I started using LinkedInto try to keep track of contacts, but even that takes work. I just cameback to take a look at how many people I know have joined the site, andit's just grown enormous; almost too many people to find particularones. I went ahead and tried to refresh some of the entries and addnewer names, anyway.
The kinds of Peer networking and contact systems like LinkedIn, and OpenBC,all serve a very good purpose in themselves but I think that they willsoon start to relive the problems we had with contact managementsystems of the past, on a whole new level. We can exchange contact infonow with standards like vCards, but peer networking introduces manymore capabilities that become relevant in a social network context thatsooner or later will need to interact between web sites.
Rather than importing/exporting data, the greater significance is theability to exchange data through some services endpoint. XML-definedentries (I'm not sure if vCards can do that) that can be accesseddirectly for more specific information, all with the right accesscontrol.
The good thing is that this issue will take some time to hit: when manymore companies not only consider the use of peer networks, but rely onthem for their business. This is starting to happen in at least a fewsites: Alibaba.com, even eBay to a degree. However, they haven't quitegone the full depth of peer networking towards degrees-of-separation,detailed contact history, message propagation through peers, etc.