Hi, Clark, meet Clark

I am absolutely convinced that when it comes to interpersonal relations, the digital age has hindered us, not helped us.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, my mother had a “Day Timer” brand address book–which she filled out by hand. It was the handiest little tool for her. It had tiny little rings and she could add pages whenever she got too many names for one letter of the alphabet. In the box with each address, there was actually a set of little checkboxes and she could record sending and receiving Christmas cards each year from each person in her list.

She had that book for years–maybe 2 decades. Never lost it or left it anywhere. And in it she had every name and address of significance to her. She hand-addressed every Christmas card she sent.

Fast forward 30-40 years, and tell me if our lives have improved: Now I have multiple name and address tools. I have TntConnect, my phone’s Contacts app, several email systems, online address lists for Boy Scouts or our school groups or our church small groups. Most of these lists do not synchronize with each other. And even more than that, everyone I know now has about 10-15 “addresses and phone numbers” vs. the one address and two phone numbers (home and work) they used to have. And this is easier?!

Of course, the irony here is that we have more information about our friends than ever before, yet it is harder to reach them than ever.

I think we dream of a time when every we will have a “one stop shop” for every name and address.

In the meantime, at least, TntConnect does at least help you avoid duplicates in one system. When I enter a new contact–or download a gift from a person for the first time–TntConnect scans through my database to see if that person may already be in my database. For example, if I enter Clark Kent as a new contact in my database, TntConnect not only checks to see if there is a Clark Kent already in there, but even the addresses too (to see if “Clark Kent” on 123 Maple St. is the same as “Lois Kent” on 123 Maple St.).

This type of duplicate checking is a handy little feature that in the big picture does not make a major difference. But it is a nice thing, and I appreciate it.

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4 thoughts on “Hi, Clark, meet Clark

  1. Hi Bob. I really appreciate these tips, thanks very much. I don’t know if questions are better addressed somewhere else, if so, please advise. But, you reference loading new contacts anad the checking that takes place. I’m interested to know if existing contact info can be updated, and even more specifically, info that was not previously on TnT. Can we load new info info existing contacts?

    Thanks,
    Melissa Harvin

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  2. Hi, Melissa. Yes and no on the “import and update”.

    Yes, to some extent you can import new information into existing contacts. To do this, your best bet is to make sure TNT can match the contact, such as by using the Contact ID (which you can export but not see in TNT), or at least by lastname and firstname.

    No, however, having said that, let me add that “practically speaking”, TNT is not designed to do this. The vast majority of TNT users import contacts only one time–when they start using it. So it is not designed to regularly import new information and update it (I don’t really know any software that does that very well, either).

    When you import contacts, TNT makes a backup copy automatically. This is good because if you do not like the results of the import, you can just Restore the pre-import copy. This will also allow you to re-try an import if you don’t like the results.

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    1. I guess I was thinking about the donation import process. When contact info has changed, sure would be nice to update emails, phone numbers and even a user defined field or two (like donor’s current small group name). We have access to all that, but our workers do not (without significant effort on their part). We do matching on 5 different fields between our database and TNT at least quarterly. But…I think you are saying this won’t work, right?

      We are a sending church and use TNT for a dozen or so families in the field. We share access via dropbox. Our workers are sent by three different agencies, but are heavily supported by our church (up to 80%) and so we’d like to provide updated info to our workers, as mentioned above. This is particularly useful prior to home assignments when planning small group presentations.

      Thanks for clarifying.

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  3. (I should also add that we do a lot of the updating for our workers, rather than the workers themselves. Probably very different scenario than most.)

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