July 9, 2007

Preparing for my new ‘roll’

Hi, I’m Joseph Smarr. I’ve been at Plaxo since the very beginning, so as you can imagine I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years (including most recently the architect of Plaxo Online 3.0, which we just released). I want to tell you about my newest roll as Plaxo’s Chief Platform Architect. I’m now focused on helping Plaxo wire up the social web, and we’re doing it with open standards. Here’s why:
Plaxo’s core mission is to help you stay connected to the people you care about. Doing this properly means integrating with the applications and services that you and your contacts already use, since that’s where daily digital interactions take place. When we started Plaxo in 2002, this basically meant plugging into Desktop PIMs like Outlook. But since then, we’ve seen a remarkable flourishing of socially-enabled web services: photo sharing, blogging, social networks, social news, social bookmarking, and the list goes on. These days, “staying connected” to your family, friends, and colleagues means more than having their up-to-date contact info. It also means staying current with the digital lives we’re all increasingly living.
Plaxo’s vision has always been to integrate with all the tools and services that benefit from knowing who you know. We’ve built quite a few plug-ins and sync points ourselves (Outlook, Mac, Thunderbird, AIM, Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, LinkedIn, etc.), and a number of partners and developers have built additional integration points using our APIs. Lots of sites also use our widget to let their users access their address books across the web. But there’s always more to do and we certainly can’t do it on our own.
We believe that people will continue to create and consume content across a wide variety of services, and that no one site will ever be the de facto destination for everyone in the world. Thus we see the task of keeping who you know and what they’re doing in sync across different sites and tools as core to Plaxo’s mission, and an important challenge that our experience makes us well-suited to meet.
We also believe the best way to help wire up the social web is to continue embracing open standards and providing users with transparent access to their data across all the sites and services they use. Plaxo 3.0‘s sync engine is built on top of SyncML, vCard, and iCal; Plaxo Pulse is powered by RSS; and this is just the beginning for us. We envision a world in which users can easily find out who they know on any service and stay on top of what they’re sharing. This can only happen if sites are open and let their users stay in control.
I’m incredibly excited about Plaxo’s opportunity to help contribute to the open social web! Doing it right is a full-time job, and in fact it’s now my full-time job in my new role as Chief Platform Architect. It’s always been a personal passion, and my new title and focus reflects the importance that Plaxo is placing on it. So expect to see more support for open standards, more and better APIs, more widgets, and more developer tools to help empower our comrades.
If you believe in the Open Social Web, please tell me how you think Plaxo can best help out. You can always get my latest contact info at joseph.myplaxo.com. Or come find me at MashupCamp, OSCON, or similar events in the future.
–Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform Architect

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Redgee Capili

General Manager, Plaxo.com

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