Friday, April 14, 2006

Google (insert word here)

Yes, if you haven't heard, Google is headed for world domination. I guess that's better than Microsoft, right? It'll sure suck when the government buys them.

The newest Google tool: Google Calendar

It's a neat tool. You can input your calendar in it or you can import existing calendars. Its importer tool supports ICS calendars (a standard format used by iCal, Mozilla, and others) as well as CSV calendars (a format you can export your MS Outlook calendars to).

What's also special about it is that you can subscribe to existing calendars. For example, there are calendars of holidays that you can subscribe to to add those holidays to your calendar without you having to do anything. Additionally, when someone updates these calendars, they get updated on your calendar automagically. (IN FACT, you can even SUBSCRIBE to existing on-line ICS calendars! That's probably one of the coolest features for geeky iCal folk)

Similar things have been done with the ICS calendar tools since they include calendar subscriptions. iCalShare is one example of a site that lets people advertise calendars that others can subscribe to.

This calendar subscription idea can be useful for scheduling group meetings too. Imagine you have a group of people who need to meet weekly and you want to figure out a good time for everyone. If they all have calendars in Google, you can subscribe to all of their calendars and view them all on one page to find good spots. A long time ago, I built a tool to do exactly this:

Meeting Schedule Generator

You don't put your whole schedule into my tool. You just put a general weekly schedule. Additionally, you subscribe to calendar groups owned by other people. That way you effectively "export" your calendar to other people.

Really all of these tools are trickle-down ideas from groupware ideas that have been around for a long time. As groupware technology becomes more accessible, we'll see more and more of this.

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