Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New year, new agenda

This year is already 20 days old, but since its start I've had a new agenda for this blog. The problems of calendars not working together are now well-documented, here and elsewhere. New calendars continue to appear and continue not to interoperate with other calendars. Interoperability continues to mean different things to different people:
  • Can I read my calendar without being at my computer?*
  • Can I read your calendar without being at your computer?
  • Can I receive updates easily from other calendars, public and private?
  • Can I update any such calendar remotely?
  • Can I "sync" two calendars such that all changes made on one calendar are made on the other calendar, and that conflicts are resolved in a straightforward manner?
  • Can I easily combine two calendars into one, or separate one calendar into two, and route them accordingly?
  • If the calendar is maintained in the "cloud," do I have trust in that image of my calendar, such that the security and privacy of that information is assured?
This year, in 2009, I am dedicated to a systematic exploration of these questions. It's more than giving out SwampDrain points for jobs well or poorly done, though that may still happen from time to time.

Lastly, how can these questions be made part of a national dialogue about the productivity of America? It's all well and good to expand the use of broadband Internet communications to more parts of the country, but I remain convinced that providing a solid, interoperable calendaring infrastructure could raise our productivity more than any mere DSL, cable or WiMax hookup. Is anyone from the Obama administration listening?

* - "Computer" is any device where you enter your calendar info. That could be a phone, an iPod Touch, or some other calendar-enabled appliance.

2 comments:

Dan Mosedale said...

I like this framing; it feels to me like it's a good summary of important user-centric problems.

Eric Ly said...

Scott, these insights very much on the mark. It's clear to us that the Internet can bring radically new ways for people to interact with their calendars (and therefore their time). However, this potential is largely untapped and unexploited.

By way of analogy, email and messaging today provides a large productivity boost to people because anyone can reach almost anyone else by email. It's so ubiquitous we don't even think about it. Imagine the productivity boost if people can access one another's calendars (albeit in a secure way).