I always loved reading “Dear Abby” in the Sunday paper growing up… You know – back in the days where people actually read newspapers. I always wondered how “Abby” got her gig – quite possibly the easiest newspaper column in the world to write (and hands down, the most fun)… getting opinion questions in the mail and answering them, without doing extensive research. With my childhood memories at the forefront of my conciousness, I was particularly excited when my good friend, Paul (prolific Voxer and neighbor in SF), wrote me an email (which, he gave me permission to post) to ask my opinion about a popular social media topic – Plaxo:
“I have some substantially horrible memories of ‘plaxo spam’ from 2004, 2005 and 2006. I had one particularly persistent cousin who took full advantage of Plaxo’s ability to bug the hell out of his uninterested acquaintances — he pinged me from Plaxo’s site at least once a month for two years. I could have stopped the acquaintance spam by asking him to stop (though he’s not what we would call a ‘good listener’) or putting Plaxo’s address in my blacklist, but I mostly grumbled about it and deleted the messages.
Now I’m receiving new Plaxo-pings from my coworkers for a new service called Plaxo Pulse. It seems to be some kind of uber-content-stream-sucker with little added value. My question for you, oh-queen-of-all-things-2.0, do we leave Plaxo in the electronic doggy house for their acquaintance-spamming ways, or does Pulse represent a newer/better/faster Plaxo that deserves my clicks?”
Thanks for writing! I too have “substantially horrible memories of ‘plaxo spam’ from 2004, 2005 and 2006,” and like you, I’ve recently started to receive Plaxo-pings from all sorts of people for Plaxo Pulse. I know that technology products change frequently- mostly for the better, but since the spam hasn’t stopped from Plaxo, I’ve not bothered to give it a second look.
Am I being silly to ignore it? Maybe, but if it “Plaxo Pulse” were really that good, it would take note of my blood pressure, realize that repeated spamming makes my blood boil, and it would stop spamming me. Alternatively, when it did spam me, the email would thoroughly explain why I should want to join a service with a long history of spamming. And, that reason shouldn’t be that a random acquaintance or friend has added me to their address book. It should explain the benefits of Plaxo Pulse in detail and, in the process, apologize for the hundreds of spam emails I’ve received from it’s predicesor, Plaxo.
So as not to dismiss the merits of Plaxo Pulse without doing at least a little research, I went to Plaxo.com an dug around to uncover the ‘new’ value proposition. This is what I found:
“Sign up and get the only online address book and calendar that syncs with Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Apple, AOL — and your mobile phone.”
I don’t see the point. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Apple, AOL, and any smartphone (mobile phone) each sync with free address book/calendaring apps and Outlook… Granted, if you’ve got 5 address book and calendar accounts from 5 different providers, you may need Plaxo. But, if you’re like most people and only have work calendar/contacts and home calendar/contacts, and you actually communicate with the people on your contacts list every once in a while, Outlook or Entourage should do the trick.
The only differentiating feature that I’m aware of with Plaxo Pulse is that it’s able to simultaneously sync information from 5 providers, and it will send annoying spam ‘fill in the form’ emails to your friends, family, and colleagues regularly to ensure that you have the most up-to-date contacts.
In a digital age where communication is often too frequent and less meaningful than it once was, I think you’ll have better luck staying on top of your contacts (and ensuring that they remain meaningful) by finding out where they are/ what they’re up to when you speak to them, rather than soliciting ‘fill in the blank’ updates.
– Abby (ahem, I mean Lisa)