The Contact Protocol & my first RFC

_[Update]: I have created which now holds the draft specifications._

About ten years ago I had a couple of interesting ideas but due to sheer laziness on my part I never did anything with them.

One of these ideas however keeps popping back into my head and so finally I’ve decided to do something about it.

The original idea is very very simple: wouldn’t be nice to have a URL that points to information about you ? You could give this URL to people and they would always be able to find you.

Now of course it’s 2009 and the idea is slightly more refined and so I give to you: the “Contact Protocol”… It works as follows:

  1. you give out a Contact URL which looks something like contact:// . This URL can be put on business cards, email footers, websites etc
  2. the URL can then be used to retrieve your up-to-date contact details. If your details change you simply update them in one place and anyone who has your Contact URL can retrieve them.

Now obviously you would be able to type the URL into a web browser to lookup someone’s details but that is only one use.

How about an email client ? Just add the Contact URL for someone into your address book and voilà your email client will always have right email address for them.

What about your mobile phone ? Add a contact URL for a contact and the device can use it to figure out which phone number to use when you call them.

Instant messaging, same deal…

Pretty nice… at least I think so.

So what the heck is an RFC and how does it fit in with your crazy idea I hear you ask ?

Well I want the Contact Protocol to be widely used and the easiest way to do this is to make it a standard. On the Internet standards are defined in request for comments or RFCs. This practice has been in place since the Internet was born.

The RFC process is looked after by the IETF (Internet Enginnering Task Force) and most RFCs are written by this group but anyone can write one and submit it for consideration so this is what I have started to do.

It is however not entirely straightforward, RFCs have specific format, language, style and content requirements. Check out the RFC style guide (formatted as an RFC itself). Luckily the IETF have provided the xml2rfc tool which takes an xml file and generates a correctly formatted RFC, this makes things much simpler.

So I’m currently enthusiastically hacking away on my xml file, I’ll let you know when I have something to look at.