Who Needs Calendaring?

So that not-so-subtle Web 2.0 hype machine has kicked in again. Who’d blame Google? I remember selling a pair of Gmail accounts for $70 a pop on eBay (no joke). Techcrunch has leaked some screenshots of the upcoming Google Calendar.
So allow me to indulge for a moment and ramble on like a bratty teenager…
Who the hell needs a personal calendar? Beyond work (where 90% of us are using Outlook/Exchange), what are people planning exactly? Maybe I need to find more friends and be more social. I don’t know. And no, I don’t have a need to “share” my calendar with non-work people. If I’m going to a show or meeting people for dinner, email and a few phone calls is just fine.
Let’s not delude ourselves folks. We are not in an age of invention. Online calendaring could have prospered years ago when it first debuted. It sort of has in some corners (Yahoo! comes to mind) but there’s no way you can tell me that there lies some dormant need among the masses that justifies this newfound interest and invesment in a bunch of calendaring apps.
And Google is no less guilty (or vulnerable). Somebody. Anybody. For the love of all things big and small. Shut your doors and charge $10 a month to see if I’m dead wrong (or if I need more friends).

11 Comments Who Needs Calendaring?

  1. Russ N.

    I generally agree – I’ve tried 30boxes and after 10 minutes of tinkering haven’t been back. Now, ___IF___ Google or someone else integrated pretty easily with Outlook/Exchange then there might be value. My wife could update the “family” calendar and I add to Outlook so I know when or when not to schedule meetings/trips that would conflict with family obligations.

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  2. Chris Brogan

    I got an account on 30Boxes to try it out. It doesn’t do much for me. I utterly agree. I don’t need another calendar besides the one at work, especially when the Mrs. is still using paper, and so, that’s the calendar of record for what little life I have outside of work.
    Excellent post, as always. Big fan, though I rarely post.

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  3. todd

    who needs a calendar for social events? that’s what my wife is for – so i can have a verbal reminder of my coming events….

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  4. Tom D.

    Ah, don’t be so quick to be a naysayer, Rich–you should know better than that, you forward thinking lug, you.
    Do most people really need the equivelant of their Outlook calendars posted on the web? No, those are personal calendars. If someone needs to make plans with me outside of work, they can email me or call me.
    What you’re missing is that it doesn’t have to be just a personal calendar (and I have no idea if Google has taken this approach). It can (and should) do the personal calendar stuff, but merely as an afterthought.
    What if your internet calendar (myNetCal TM) didn’t simply tell you what you have planned (because a datebook or a friggin post-it is far easier for that), but what if it could tell you the things you might want to do and the things you want to know as well as handling reminders. What if you opened your myNetCal for April and saw that, hey, the Allman Brothers are playing at the Beacon (because it “knows” you’d be interested in such a fact) and Wilco is in Sayerville next week and right from that calendar entry I could pick the date I wanted to go and buy some tickets.
    And then I look at today’s entry and I see that I only have one month before my wedding anniversary and, hey, Lost is on at 9:00 (click to record to my DVR).
    Looking to next week I see that two of the companies I own stock in will be announcing their earnings. Sure, hundreds of companies will be posting earnings, but I see the entries for the companies I care about/have stock in. So I click on that entry and tell it to email me those earnings results as soon as they are posted.
    If I were social and belonged to organizations, I would also see the events hapening there.
    So, I think the online calendar can work–if you flip it on its head. Instead of being about the things you have to do and have scheduled, it should be about all of the things you might want to do or know. Think of it as a personalized search engine on a timeline.

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  5. Colin Scroggins

    I am currently using 30 boxes, but have been waiting for a Google calendar. Being able to share “available time” information will definitely help me and moving towards open calendar formats will enable me to sync this data between computers and mobile devices.
    I definitely think this has more to do with commodotizing Outlook’s features for the masses (and the subsequent shortfall for MS), than it does with pent up demand (think Gtalk). However, I am thankful for it all the same.
    Look at the changes in the IM market since Google’s entry and compare that to the previous 5 years. Hopefully, Google calendar will do the same.

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  6. Rich Ziade

    Colin:
    I agree that the ripple effect on the market can be real. My whole issue is the actual need for end users.
    Tom raised some really good points – but I dunno if that really makes this calendaring anymore. Then it’s just a place where you can hear about stuff by date – which is potentially cool and different.
    If I’m perceiving this as a real personal calendar – do i really want random stuff showing up?

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  7. Avi Flax

    Rich, you’re mostly right — people don’t need electronic schedule and event management and sharing. What they need is electronic life management software — of which schedule/event management is just a component. A necessary component, though.
    This point is one that most online calendaring efforts are missing, despite their RSS and iCal feeds. It just takes to much manual work to use connect all those data transport pieces together. That point is one of the reasons why Yahoo seems to have the lead in this nascent category (life management), with Google gaining rapidly.
    Did you know that Gmail’s address book can now function as a primary address book (i.e. it stores mailing addresses and arbitrary information like birthdays)? Or that Google Reader will soon be releasing a public API so anyone can build apps on their back end? These subtle innovations tend to be lost on the public, who are more interested in the flashy stuff like Google Video. But Google’s personal information management ecosystem has a good chance of having a much bigger long-term impact on how people manage their lives.

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  8. Ben

    A good online calendar may not be for everybody but I would definitely like to have one. If nothing else just for my wife and I to coordinate more and to argue less. :) We are both active in our church and she is a cub scout den leader, I am a Boy Scout leader. We both have Scouts at least one night a week, plus church activities often come around. We have two kids and another one on the way and my wife has activities planned all the time whether it’s the library or a playgroup with friends. This may not seem like a lot but I am often overwhelmed with trying to remember it all.
    I am online so much that it seems it would be easier and less costly for me than a Palm or something and my wife works from home and is online a lot too. She is very organized, so I could just say “Honey, put it on the calendar and I’ll make sure to check it.”
    Even though all the other features mentioned above would be nice. I would just like a simple, easy to use, well designed online calendar. I haven’t tried any of the ones listed so I’ll try them first, but I’ll welcome any others too. :)

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