I just noticed, after reading the excellent blog post by Andreas Klinger about phone numbers, that I never really talked about what I did in my thesis on my blog.
My thesis had the title "Distributed Management of personal contact data" and dealt with analyzing the problem that current data management facilities ( read: address books ) are suffering from and proposed a protocol for creating a distributed contact management facility.
My motivation was the problem described by Andreas, in one form or another. While I didn't discuss phone numbers in detail, I think they are a great example for why any of todays used management systems are inpractical.
The system I suggested and subsequently built in a team with Sven Pfleiderer was distributed, simple, HTTP based and privacy-aware – that is encrypted, so that it doesn't need HTTPS. The focus was also to design it in a way that would make it easy to implement and suited to run on cheap non-dedicated servers.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the time after completing my thesis to create a working platform demoing the whole idea. After the appearance of diaspora, I was convinced that the problem would solve itself, but these guys never even bothered to write a nice protocol spec altogether.
If you care about the whole piece of work, you can grab it here. There may be some typos/mistakes in it, please don't let me know. What I'd like to know is what you think about it.
Update: Posted wrong thesis. ( ... )