Back to the Future at When 2.0

December 26th, 2005 by Hans Bjordahl :: see related comic

Earlier this month, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend When 2.0, an Esther Dyson confab about time and sequence, calendars and calendaring, hosted at Stanford University. For me, the event was particularly relevant, as in one of my many lives, I’m known as “the calendar guy” for Microsoft Outlook.

The first notable thing about When 2.0 was the sheer amount of energy that’s surging into the field of electronic calendaring. Part of this is a reflection of the “rebirth of tech” in general, but it’s also driven by the fact that electronic calendaring is one of the most interesting (and still largely unsolved) problems in the technology space today.

Which is why it’s getting so much attention. Google was expected to announce its much-anticipated calendaring initiative at When 2.0, but this did not come to pass. At one panel, pressed for details on the calendaring features in the next release of Chandler, Mitch Kapor noted that calendaring is, well, hard. Meanwhile, a gaggle of startups are tackling the problem from a variety of interesting angles.

It’s a problem (no, wait, I mean “opportunity”) that’s getting a lot of attention from Microsoft as well. The next release of Microsoft Outlook (to be part of the Office “12″ release) will deliver significant — even dramatic — improvements in Outlook’s calendaring experience. As the “calendar guy,” I’ll provide more details in subsequent posts, but in broad terms, here are some of the things to look for from the next release of Outlook’s calendar:

  • A significantly improved calendar UI.
  • Improved support for the iCalendar standard, meaning that Outlook will be a full participant in the “calendar revolution” currently gaining momentum on the Internet. Sites like iCalShare.com offer thousands of examples of the kinds of calendars that will soon be viewable via Microsoft Outlook.
  • New tools to help you manage all these new calendars.
  • A recognition that “task management” and “time management” are essentially the same thing. For more on this, check out Melissa Macbeth’s Outlook task management blog.

More details to follow… in due time. :)

4 Responses to “Back to the Future at When 2.0”
Luke Waltman wrote:

Since we’re on task management:

I’ve always wondered what the explanation was for why when I want to change a date in Microsoft Project, invariably there will be some constraint generated that prevents me from changing that date.

Does anyone else have that problem?

Matt Lynch wrote:

Dear Mr Calendar Guy,

It seems that you may be qualified to answer a question that has been bugging me for a number of years now.

Why is it that tasks are not linked to the calendar?

Since it would seem like something completely obvious to do, I figured that the feature was raised and then dropped. Was it too complex for people to deal with? Or is there some weirdo technical reason that it won’t work?

Surely it wouldn’t be too hard to make it a option that could be enabled/disabled. I was going to write an add-in to do it, though I’m not fond of writing add-ins which are glaringly obvious, and should be a feature. I’ve done that before, only to see my time wasted when the feature was included in the next release.

After doing a comprehensive survey of the 2 other people in my office, we found that 100% of respondants would enjoy the feature. Furthermore, 33% of respondants (1 person) said that it would be valuable to include the feature in Pocket Outlook too. :)

Otherwise, keep up the good work. Code well…

Tim wrote:

This sounds really promising.. I need to get back to updating my blog with news on calendaring, I’ve been remiss.

ugg boots wrote:

i absolutely like your net website. Its really informative. Goodbye!

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Bug Bash is a comic strip written and illustrated by Hans Bjordahl. Bug Bash is a comic strip about technology: managing technology, the business of technology. It's about project management and managing projects through the dull world of Rational Rose, use cases, and requirements. Functional requirements, user requirement, functional specifications, design specifications, call it what you want but it's still the bane of project managers. And when you're done with that, you can think about all the fun that comes with timelines, scheduling, estimates (PERT estimation anyone?) and resourcing until Gantt charts are coming out of your ears. Let's not forget the risk management in the software engineering life cycle. Maintaining the project is just as much fun, managing what was initially set out in requirements and trying to keep feature creep / scope creep in check with change management. If any of these words send nightmares to you, the project manager, then this site probably rings true with you. (Who Links Here?)