I guess you're in luck. Gaim is almost completely core/UI split, and most of the UI can be changed via a plugin. One example of a UI is Gaim for Qtopia. You could in theory just write a plugin that replaces your buddy list UI and keep that loaded. You can already assign your own names to people. Howver, data like phone numbers, etc. are not yet doable. Might consider that for a future release..
I guess we're on Slashdot and Newsforge again. Yippy.. At least the Newsforge article was good.