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Contact Codes Lite™

CCL (Contact Codes Lite™) would be a software product to help people exchange many kinds of contact information much more easily. CCL would do this by providing users with relatively simple contact codes. The users could distribute the codes to many people in many ways. Then, a person who received a contact code could use it to retrieve the original person's contact information through CCL.

For example, many people still exchange business cards. Retrieving various information from the cards can be time consuming and error prone, especially when there are many cards. Also, when somebody updates their information, the information from the card is no longer valid.

Other good examples for usage of contact codes include:
  • On a slide in a presentation
  • In email signatures
  • On name tags
  • In applications that provide limited space for profile information
  • Whenever you want to provide easy access to many different contact options without listing each

The main thing that would make CCL different from other contact management services, is that most such services are restrictively tied to managing only certain kinds of information. CCL itself would not directly manage any of the contact information. This would allow CCL to facilitate the exchange of all kinds of contact information, including things that will become more popular in the future. Through CCL, we aim to provide the single source of truth for contact information.

CCL would be available in the form of a public web site and in the form of mobile apps. Within the CCL site or within a CCL app, users would first choose whether they wanted to "find someone," "be found," or "facilitate."

Finding People

To find someone, the user would enter the contact code for the person they were seeking. If the user entered a valid code, CCL would display a profile for the person with that code.

CCL could also provide complete web addresses including the code, so somebody could go directly to a profile by entering that address. CCL could also provide a QR code (a special pattern of dots) for the address. Then somebody could snap a photo of the QR code to access the profile without entering the address manually.

Profiles

To be found, a user would create a profile. This is when they would receive a contact code. The user could customize their contact code. Contact codes would be similar to "user names" in other software products, as they would need to follow certain rules and be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Once the user receives a code, they would need to add some contact information to their profile. To do that, they would choose one or more available contact providers from a pre-determined list. Then, they could add channels to their profile from those providers. Each provider would provide certain types of contact information for certain channels.

For example, one provider may be Facebook. Facebook may provide contact information for the following channels: Name, Profile Photo, Tagline, Location, and Bio.

A CCL user could mix and match information on their profile. For example, they may choose to display on their profile, a name from Snapchat, profile photo from Instagram, tagline from LinkedIn, etc. They could also provide direct links to their profiles at those providers, for more complete interaction.

Facilitation (Advanced)

To manage the list of available providers, that is where facilitating comes in. When a CCL user enters the site or app and chooses to facilitate, they can register a new provider. They would need to provide the name of the provider, and the list of channels it would provide. Then the provider could provide contact information for those channels.

To provide the necessary information, the provider would setup a provider service. The service is a special piece of software that must follow certain rules. The rules would be fairly technical, but could consist of such things as a REST service supporting OAuth 2 authentication, served over TLS 1.2 with a valid certificate. (See, I warned you that it was technical.) This service would allow CCL to securely retrieve relevant contact information from the provider, for the profiles.

More Related Ideas

  • Physical Materials: CCL could possibly partner with third party services to make it easy for users to get physical materials containing the code addresses and QR codes (printed on business cards, letterheads, etc.)
  • Multiple Contexts: For convenience, we could provide multiple codes for separate sets of contact information (for example, business versus personal, or close companions versus casual acquaintances). That way, users could have fine grained control to provide others with easy access to only the contact information that is relevant within a certain context
    • Privacy Note: Contact codes are not intended for securing private information. They are only designed to be used for information that would already be considered public
  • Organization Profiles: We could support profiles for organizations, not just for individuals
  • Sponsored Providers: We could earn money for CCL by charging a commission on fees for sponsored providers. These would be providers who would charge a fee to the person with the profile. For instance, there might be a sponsored provider like Acme Marketplace Premium. A user may place an Acme channel on their profile. When a viewer clicks through that link, we could collect an advertising fee from the user on behalf of Acme, and keep a small commission.
    • (Sponsored providers could possibly provide premium features such as trusted feedback ratings, physical address verification, or discount coupons)

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