A few years ago, I was excited about a new protocol being developed within the IETF. A close relative of IMAP, ACAP (the Application Configuration and Access Protocol) was designed to allow applications to store preferences and other persistent information (not documents or other big data files, but small stuff) on a server so that it could be accessed from any computer. The classic examples they always talked about were bookmarks and address books. Your browser at work would use and update bookmarks stored on the ACAP server, and then your browser at home could see and maintain the same bookmark list.

For all practical purposes, ACAP is dead. Very few applications use it. Even if they did, organizations and ISPs couldn’t be relied upon to maintain ACAP servers. Too bad. IM clients are the only apps that do a good job of ACAP-style preference storage, and they all use custom mechanisms.

I’m still finding all kinds of things I want to share between computers, though. Bookmarks. RSS feeds. Blog drafts. Notes and reminders. And I also sometimes want to easily share those with others. Not just as in “here’s part of my bookmark list right now”—rather, “here’s access to a portion of my bookmark list; I’ll continue to update it with new stuff that’s relevant to our common interest.”

I’m starting to see that there might be a better way to do this than the ACAP model. Less centralized, less integrated, and more flexible.