so what is the difference between an old phone book and a web directory?


In the good old days there was the phone book.  A list of all phone numbers in your area.  You could flick through this open, public record and find out where someone lived and their phone number.  Easy, simple and in black and white delivered to your door.

Back in 2006 when Ajit Jaokar and I wrote "Mobile Web 2.0" we created an idea about "I am a tag and not a number" - which was to become a bedrock of PhoneBook 2.0 thinking.  The thinking was that phone books will die as the phone number is dead; you will become what others tag you as.  This move would allow phonebooks to move on from a disconnected phone number and become an connected action and activity delivering: book a meeting, message, call, IM, find and locate,

In the old model you trusted the company who printed the phone book to remove (in the next addition) your details if you so wanted.  However, once printed there was always a copy at the library if you wanted older versions to see if someone had just gone x-directory.

Yes there was a lot of work involved, you had to find the directory, pick it up, use your brain to determine where "F" "I" "S" "H" was in the alphabet, run your finger down the page and horror, write down the number, before you walked to a phone and dialled in the number.

But, however you look at it, this was a public record and was open. So why is there so much concern about web directories.  Yes it is easier to find and any lazy fool can do it from anywhere, but so what?

Is it that we now don't know who to turn to become x-directory (there are too many) or is it that we cannot delete what is there or is it that we are worried about someone else other than a trusted party publishing our data.

In the old printed world there was a sense of control, redress and trust, in the new on-line world we only control what we say we say about ourselves, but cannot control and have little ability to redress what others say about us, or someone providing data that we want, for whatever reason, to keep from open and public scrutiny.

Did our forefathers think, debate, wrestle about the implications of printing every phone number is an open and public book, or was it a useful utility?