I broke my own rules. A few days ago I signed up to Plaxo in order to synchronise my Outlook calendar with my Google calendar .
My end goal was to be able to make my work calendar easy for others to see with the least amount of work on my part. OggSync was in the running as the sync app of choice but the Scot in me was balking at the subscription for something that should, in my mind, be free.
So, against my better judgement I signed up for the service. I logged on and opted for them not to look at all of my other online accounts. I said no to searching this, that and the other. I synchronised my calendar and saw my birthday in both Outlook and GCal and sighed with happiness. Naive, uninformed happiness as it happens.
If this was a simple programme I would then write ‘GOTO Line 1′. But this is not a C64 programme in the virtual world of 19-something, this is my world in
2007 2008. I broke my own rules because I didn’t want to pay $29.95 for a year of seamless (I’ve tested it) synchronisation. My rules said that I would never use Plaxo because of their track record of playing fast and loose with other people’s data.
So, catching up with all of my blog feeds after a heavy few days of Asian super-marketing and playing with DJ sound systems I discover that the geek world have once again been stunned by Plaxo’s fast and loose attitude to other people’s data. Robert Scoble, geek extrordinaire has been suckered into trying out another of Plaxo’s new services. Scoble allowed Plaxo to scour his contact’s Facebook information for data to match up with his Outlook contacts. This effectively allowed Plaxo to look for user’s email addresses and birthdays by crawling through Scoble’s 5000+ contact’s personal data.
Imagine this. I’m happy if my best mate Scoble has my personal email address and birthday info, but I don’t necessarily want Mug’s Pizza to have that data because I’m not as close to them as I am to Scoble (yes, I know… ).
My data is mine and mine alone. I need to be allowed to say who has access to that information and who doesn’t. Suffice to say that I am have cancelled that Plaxo subscription and won’t be breaking those personal rules again. I’ll also be looking more closely at what information I already have out there in social networking land. And what other people could be allowing Plaxo, et al, to see of my own personal data.