THE GOSPEL OF TIME, ACCORDING TO JON

Jon Udell has been focusing his attention on calendaring data and ways in which existing tools and API's can be maximized to benefit groups sharing bits of calendar data. Jon touches upon a few thoughts that I'd like to address, having worked with calendar-type data on and off for over a decade myself.

First of all, I've been an avid follower of Jon's since his days at the late, lamented Byte magazine. His pragmatic techniques speak to his deep understanding of the plumbing of the internet and how we (under)use it. Jon's latest focus is on bringing a mashup to bear on a practical calendar data service. In this case, Jon is "bootstrapping" user-generated Delicious feeds, the Microsoft Azure cloud service and XML/RSS/iCal to recombine the information into a tapestry of geographically connected events. Kudos for the effort, Jon. You can track his "elmcity" project here.

I can't help but feel that Jon is missing the bigger picture. Well, he's "getting" the bigger picture -that calendar-ish data will probably be a "big" thing. His recombinant approach to existing tools and ideas, though, probably isn't it. The ability to create such mashups is a hallmark of the "Web 2.0" era and Jon, once again, displays his masterful ability to create something powerful from simple, existing substrates. Historically, it's been the entrepreneurs that somehow grasp a simple concept regarding human behavior -or an evolved human behavior- and bring that concept to bear on a traditionally complex problem that win out in the marketplace. I don't have any idea what that concept will look like, so don't ask, but I highly doubt that it will contain the recombinant DNA of existing solutions when it debuts.

Mind you, I said when it debuts. After the magical mystery viral calendar tool of the future gains traction, a clamor will be made for an API that will draw the tool into the prevailing social tapestry. (Facebook and Twitter today, who knows what tomorrow?) I wonder, though, will iCal make it into that mix when the day comes or is iCal's fundamentally one-way nature not be up to the task of the wonder collaboration of tomorrow?