Are there any defacto resources for understanding the basics of smart cards?
My problem is that I don't know what I don't know about the technology.
Any good primers?
If you don't want to read straight from standards, and you are looking something in book form, this is a nice primer, (fairly) entry level into smart card security: http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Cards-Tokens-Security-Applications/dp/1441944265 . It's written by two university professors and is the course book on a msc course about smart cards. For a more comprehensive book on the subject (but maybe a bit beyond what you need) I suggest this one: http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Card-Handbook-Wolfgang-Rankl/dp/0470743670
Depending on what you are looking for there is a lot of technologies covering the smart card topic. Some of them coming to my mind:
OpenSC project has also lots of information and further pointers. And you're most welcome to ask for help on the mailing list as well.