Recently I wrote that newspapers (all of them online) would become extremely local to your family. CNN had a similar article recently, but what they call hyperlocal is your community, not your family. So that isn't nearly local enough in my view.


Moreover, I think the family calendar is the organizing principle into which all external information should flow. I want the kids' school schedules for sports and plays and even lunch choices to automatically flow into the home calendar. And when I want to decide what to do on the weekend, I want to click on the date for next Saturday and have all the relevant choices of plays, movies, and events pop up.

Everything you do has a time dimension. If you are looking for a new home, the open houses are on certain dates, and certain houses that fit your needs are open at certain times. If you are shopping for some particular good, you often need to know the store hours. Your calendar needs to know your shopping list and preferences so it can suggest good times to do certain things.

Time is closely related to distance. On a typical night, for a typical family, there is much driving to and fro to deliver people and goods to where they need to be. Sometimes it is more complicated than a Fedex route. It would be nice if the family calendar helped us plan the shortest routes to accomplish all goals. The calendar just needs to know what I need and when, then plan which family member with a car is nearest.

Perhaps your calendar could suggest some carpooling as well, all automatically. I don't need to know my friends' business, but if their calendars and mine spoke to each other and found some common driving patterns it could shoot us both an offer to carpool, assuming we had approved those friends in advance for such offers. My phone would get the offer and I could confirm with a simple text message response.

When I read the news, I'm generally most interested in how stories have unfolded across time. I want to know the "new news," as in the topics that have never been reported until today, but I also want ongoing charts and graphs about the "old news" such as wars and the economy. My understanding of the war in Iraq, for example, has little to do with what blew up today and a lot to do with the trend lines over the entire war. In other words, I see the news in terms of time.

In most families, everyone keeps their own calendar and does a spotty job of sharing what's on it with everyone else. In time that calendar coordination will happen electronically. And most of the information will come from external sources, such as your schools, clubs, and organizations to which you belong.

Some time ago I blogged that advertising belongs in your electronic calendar, for your benefit more than for the advertiser. That's because my interest and desire in certain products and services is linked to timing. If my calendar has a certain birthday coming up in a week, and I've checked the boxes saying the person is a certain age and gender, or has certain hobbies, my calendar can start giving me gift suggestions and recommending online flowers and e-cards and the like. In other words, advertisements can move from nuisance to valuable service just by adjusting when you see them.

I think the biggest software revolution of the future is that the calendar will be the organizing filter for most of the information flowing into your life. You think you are bombarded with too much information every day, but in reality it is just the timing of the information that is wrong. Once the calendar becomes the organizing paradigm and filter, it won't seem as if there is so much.

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Apr 20, 2011
This is exactly what Bievo (myBievo.com) does. It matches all of my events to my family calendar. My kid's baseball program enters a practice, it automatically shows up on my calendar. I even get my school lunch menu and the weather pushed directly into my family calendar and directly out to my phone.

It has been great for my family. My wife and I are finally on the same page. She sets up a dentist appointment, I see it on my calendar as well.
Jun 8, 2009
It Starts: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/08/isnt-it-time-your-kids-school-used-a-web-based-calendar/

Campaigns for web based calendars compatable with popular online calendars.
May 15, 2009
You might try our service - www.airset.com - we let you set up calendars for all of the important groups in your life and then you can see the overlap of the events from these different groups. We actually do more than calendaring, we give each group their own virtual server in the cloud (for free) and the calendar is just one of the apps that run on that server. When you join the service you get your own personal cloud computer, which of course has your own personal calendar. You can sync this to Outlook or your phone. Then as you add group servers for your family, work group, little league teams, etc. they are all automatically networked to your personal cloud computer. There is an "All Cloud Computer" view where each application will import the data from all of the cloud computers on your network to let you see the combination. In the calendar this creates a color coded calendar where the events from the different groups show up with the color that has been set for each group. You can also subscribe to external calendars (using the iCalendar standard). We don't have some of the cool features you outlined but many of the things you are looking for can be done.
May 15, 2009
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May 10, 2009
There is a site which attempts to exactly achieve this - http://www.rjenda.com

It is a website for family calendars, social groups, etc. In the words of the website developer -

In our family’s case, we realized that we were a part of 8-10 very active groups in our daily lives – Home, extended family, friends, school classrooms, sport teams, volunteer committees, book clubs, high school friends, and more. We also realized that we communicated and shared differently with each of these groups, and so wanted a solution that gave us the flexibility and simplicity to do that for each group, yet in one place.

May 10, 2009
I've been advocating hyper-local advertising for years. I also proposed an interconnected, wall-hung, touch screen electronic calendar several years back. I wrote a nice note to Microsoft, suggesting that this would be a much more effective way to weasel into my home than their (then) world-domination-through-x-box scheme.

Problem is, it's going to be a long, long time before the advertisers I want to hear from get with the program. I raise bees, dairy goats, vegetables, chickens and teenagers (not necessarily in that order). Suppliers of teen gear would be all over my wall with helpful suggestions on how best to drain my bank account and sop up the dregs. Bee and goat suppliers, on the other hand, seem to struggle mightily with online ordering. I'd love to be prompted with helpful reminders of seasonal tasks, but alas I know they'll be at least a decade behind the curve.
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May 9, 2009
Scott, some companies are allready trying: cozi.com tries to organize families calendar and their differentiator tries to be outlook (corporate) integration so that your family and work life are in sync (i.e. no need to keep two calendars) My Family and I tried it for a while but the deal breaker for me was that it gave everyone the opportunity to read change things from the cozi portal... but since my outlook calendar was tied to it... it meant that my family could change my at-work meeting information. This was the deal breaker so we stopped and today use Google calendars. No the best for me since I still need to keep the corporate one and the family one but I guess eventualy they will fix Cozi or someone will beat them to it.

But I don't think the calendar will evolve into the newspaper, like you mention, I think it's going to be the financial agreggators like mint.com, that will evolve into calendars and then news aggregators, why? Mint and similar services allready know where you live, how much you make and exactly what you spend on and, more importantly: when... I'll bet you Mint will eventually figure out better than me how often and exactly when I like to shop for groceries and when will my car run out of gas.... those services are mostly startups at this time so they will probably focus on making money first (they make commision on "helping you save money" a.k.a. "helping you switch banks and other service providers") but eventually, if the VC money does not run out or they get purchased by Google, Microsoft or Yahoo, they'll figure out that they can predict when you'll need a hair cut and when your dog needs a bath and start a service that sends meeting requests to my outlook as needed to "help me organize my time, not just my money". Later on they will try to provide relevant local content, sponsored by other local merchants, and, with the exact information of where I "spend" my day, it will be possible to give me super local news.
May 9, 2009
Not related to this post, but I thought you'd like this article, Scott.

'Babyface' Looks Boost Success of Black CEOs, Study Says:
May 9, 2009
It's a grand idea, with a few wrinkles:

1) Most people live their lives doing what's URGENT instead of what's IMPORTANT. Shuttling little Johnny and Susie to their lessons, soccer games, parties, etc., etc., is URGENT, but taking time out of EVERY day to spend time with them is IMPORTANT. Somehow, we are in eachother's company for long stretches, but not spending time with them. The software should help people focus on the important-but-not-urgent more than the urgent-but-not-important. And bag the neither urgent nor important (like commenting on a Dilber Blog?)

2) I've seen companies put in ERP system to help them centrally manage all aspects of the corporate life. It always looks good on paper, but problems arise when (a) people are all equally organized, disciplined, and work the way the software intends them to. (b) those companies always need EXTRA people to "feed the beast". Rather than making life easier, it's amost always harder. Arguably better (at least they KNOW how much accounts payable are owed at any given nanosecond. But the money's still not there).

3) Figuring out how to (a) gather all the data needed, (b) organize it and (c)present it naturally is a non-trivial task for a product whose market you have to invent ("My Boynton "Mom's Calendar" is fine for this"). It's no wonder that ERP system cost 100s of thousands, just to install.
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May 9, 2009
"You think you are bombarded with too much information every day, but in reality it is just the timing of the information that is wrong."

When would be a good time for me to see advertisements for penis enlargement pills? Because if I'm in front of a machine, it ain't size that's the problem.
May 9, 2009
There are only two aspects of your analysis I find problematic. Both are founded on assumptions.

The minor one is that I ever want to see advertising from anyone on any subject on any timing but *when I explicitly ask for it*. It's one thing to remind me a birthday is coming up - but the any app that then pops up 'helpful suggestions' of how I may spend money for vendours who are playing to catch my eye will be getting the old heave-ho. It isn't in my interest to have my own calendar acting as huckster for someone products and I doubt it ever will be. It's one thing to have a suggest button, it's another thing to do so automatically whether you want it or not.

The more major assumption appears to be that the degree of structure inherent in making your life rotate around appointments, calendars, and the hectic pace of modern life is something to be encouraged or taken for granted as a good thing. I would suggest that the modern pacing of life and the focus on scheduling aids, rigid timings, and so on has reduced the average happiness of John Q. Public. Of course, I can't prove it, but it is a gut feeling. I'm not suggesting we go to a totally unstructured life, but I think this is a continuum and we're pretty far off the one end. And providing tools to help keep us on that end of the continuum begs the question ' Why do we even want to be there?'

I know I am sizably more happy when I have unallocated time (it manages to fill itself adequately without planning tools) and when I'm not constantly racing from commitment to appointment to obligation to self-inflicted overscheduled event. I think, if there's anything we need from a Calendar app, its to help point out when we're doing too much, when we should think about creating more unstructured time, and when we should stop putting so much time pressure on ourselves. Find a way to make that work to help moderate the effects of our hectic lives and THEN you've got a Calendar that can do something useful - a hell of a lot more useful than telling me that Mother's Day is coming up and wouldn't I really like to buy XYZ for Mom? (as opposed to suggesting Mother's Day is coming up and wouldn't I like to spend some free time with Mom, devoid of other commitments and scheduled activities....)

May 9, 2009
ERP for family life? Seriously?

Here are the reasons why it will not work: Data input, social acceptability and rigidity.

- How are you going to get your family and friends to input and keep up to date all their transportation requirements and availability in advance so that the calendars can calculate routes and schedules?
- How are you going to make it socially unacceptable for anyone to change their schedules?
- etc. etc.

Family life is starting to show your PHD (pointy haired dad) side.
May 9, 2009
I think that's a great idea (if I understood it right), to use an electronic calendar to maximize efficiency, I would definitely go for one of those. It perfectly fits into the niche created by neccesity and laziness. Excellent idea, I can't believe how little comments there are, and the lack of thumbs up. Obviously I have yet to read other people's comments where they rip your idea to shreds, but I think I'd still like it. Good job.
May 9, 2009
Are you not trying to convert your local neighbourhood into an IT Company???
Just like any corporate company, you wish to have -

- Upcoming Events List (may be, on a portal).
- Buy and Sell Portal (to sell/buy house, vehicle, etc).
- Food Schedule (for the whole month)
- Preferably, a floor secretary too! [:)]
- Weekly Newsletter
May 8, 2009
just a note to say thanks for making me laugh, scott. to reciprocate i would like to suggest gerald nachmans columns from san jose state titled "the portable nachman". i haven't read it since 1978 but one column about ants still makes me laugh when i think about it. peace.
May 8, 2009
thats a really cool idea...
ive seen that the key to success of every web app like this is 2 things:
1) Ubiquitous access: I want to see that calendar on my iPhone, my iPod, my Tivo, my browser, anywhere i can access the internet.
2) API: So that other web developers can build application on top of the basic calendar app.
I think Google calendar is pretty good in fulfilling the 2 criteria, but if we can build an app on top of google calendar that integrates all these SMART features into the calendar, then it would be brilliant.
We already have various content aggregation standards like RSS for example. What remains is to integrate them all together. I think I'll look into this further, interesting stuff that imbibes Data mining and other concepts.
May 8, 2009
you're suggesting a paradigm that service providers love, but plain old folks hate - a 'central' server in the house. In this case, one that coordinates all the schedules. Consumer Electronics manufacturers have long promoted something similar as the core of the 'connected home'. people just don't want it. sorry.
May 8, 2009
Interesting concept, except that I'm not so busy that I have regular scheduling conflicts, and I'm not so caught up in other things that I can't find a gift for any conceivable occasion on Amazon.com in two minutes, nor am I so out of tune with what's going on that I can't find something to do and buy tickets in five minutes. Some of us have realized that part of enjoying life is slowing down and taking a bath more than once every seven years. My biggest problem is deciding which particular project to re-start on after taking the morning off.
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May 8, 2009
SmartCal (www.smartcal.com) has the awesome "subscribing" function--any calendar you subscribe to will then automatically appear on yours. So I can have my own calendar, as can each member of my family, but we can subscribe to one another's calendars so we can schedule around events. My calendar can also have my bill due dates and can subscribe to my work calendar. I can subscribe to the sale calendar at my fav stores. My kids can subscribe to their teachers' calendars. Scott can subscibe to his soccer team's calendar. AND, for one time events, for instance, my "party" can email you all and remind you. Plus, smartcal can send notifications to your phone etc. It's an awesome tool!

Unfortunately, from the copyright update on the site, I am guessing they ran out of venture capital 8 years ago. But I like it better than any other calendaring tool I have ever used!
May 8, 2009
My parents ran, (with interference from my sister and I) a pen and paper diary, the house rule was "if its not in the diary your not going"

I have to say that the electronic version sounds much better, I have this image of something from Iron Man, with a talking butler computer.

Another feature would be a meal planner, you could all program your top 30 meals, and it could select the most appropriate based on the people eating, time to prepare etc. You could eliminate the need to cook 3 meals for the family based on when they were in and what the children would eat... Once you have planned the meals from the week it could create a virtual shopping list you can edit it add "favourites" like milk bread*2 loaves etc, or 1 offs, and then internet order it for you. All the tech is there, You can mount the flat touch screan into a wall etc, its just a userble interface that needs developing.
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