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What is Dave Winer talking about? (UPDATED, so he has a point)

by Brandon on October 14th, 2007

I’m confused.  Dave Winer seems to be complaining about Facebook for not letting him take his address book out of Facebook and onto his computer or mobile device. 

Does he know anything about Facebook?  Maybe the fact that you can take your address book information anywhere using their API?  For instance, there’s a handy tool for sync’ing Facebook with Outlook.  There are also other cool tools and plug-ins like one that syncs with iPhoto, maintaining all your photo metadata.

I don’t see why you couldn’t use the same API to export your address book data to just about anywhere.  Strange that Winer wouldn’t mention this, though.  Hey Dave – care to clarify what you’re on about?

UPDATE: As a couple of my co-workers and others pointed out, there is a major limitation in the Facebook API that I was unaware of.  I assumed that the Outlook tool actually imported all of your contacts’ data, when in fact it cannot export e-mail addresses, phone numbers, or street addresses (just city, state, and zip code). 

Obviously that’s a pretty big limitation, and reaffirms what Winer was saying (though I do think he should have been more clear and included these details in his post).  I hope Facebook reconsiders that decision.  If they’re just waiting until their platform is more proven to prevent security + privacy issues, that’s cool with me.  But if they’re doing it to lock you into their service, I’d very much prefer they not.  I don’t think they need to lock up your contact information to keep you hooked into Facebook, as they have plenty of other ways in which users become invested in their service and platform.

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4 Comments
  1. Once again, Winer makes the same point made by hundreds of others, only in his own, annoying way.

    Facebook is a generally useless add-on for most people’s everyday lives. And I speak as someone who joined it from my first year at Harvard.

  2. David permalink

    What tool are you talking about that allows you try sync address information? Are you talking about the app that lets you sync profile pictures with your contacts?

    I think you are wrong dood…I think FB blocks address information because they dont want anyone to write an application that will bulk pwn someone.

    If you check the API you cant get address…just city/state/zip; they also exclude phone and email address from the API. Without this information, I think it would be pretty difficult to make an address book export application.

    http://developers.facebook.com/documentation.php?v=1.0&method=users.getInfo

    Think Dave might be right, but let me know if you do find a place in the API where you can yoink this info.

    I still love you Brandon,
    David

  3. David permalink

    Here is an app that screen scrapes the info (outside of the API) int a CSV.

    http://on10.net/Blogs/larry/export-facebook-to-excel-with-friendcsv/

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