Opt-in calendaring

Paul Jardine writes in the comments of an earlier entry:

Structured meeting agendas tagged with the relevant words might be an idea to ensure that we only have to attend the portion of the meeting that we want to (and it would make it more difficult for people to call a meeting!) I also want to have a calendaring application that allows me to opt-in to meeting times, rather than opt-out by making up fake excuses. Monday afternoon is a time I don't mind having meetings, so I mark that space as 'available for meetings - but only with the relevant tags!'

Yes! At the moment our calendars are by default empty, and by empty we signify availability, as in "he has nothing better to do except attend meetings". This somehow makes meetings the higher order of life, separate from the drudgery of actual work. However, if our calendars treated work time in the same way as we treat it, the default state would be full, as in "I am not available, since I am working", and you would mark time down that is available for things like meetings.

You may remember the Iteration List I presented a few months ago. One of its strengths is that you can give preference to time: "e" meaning "not really, but can be arranged under social pressure", and "?" meaning "I have no clue yet". This gives far more information than a simple available/not available system, because it allows people to have a simple ranking of their free time. It approximates (though very, very roughly) the real-world conversation where people go "hmmm" and "well" and "that's a bit inconvinient" a lot, and thus inform the others how much they prefer a given time.

One thing that would make my life a lot happier would be to have this sort of opt-in calendaring in Outlook, and just the simple ability to signal preference in my calendar, even if only at two or three levels.


sometimes when work gets busy (well, it used to be that way) and i can't be bothered by meetings, i just block the whole day with a private all day event. it's wonderful how folks don't bug you for meetings those days.

so, while i agree that opt-in would be better as you describe it, until then, i will game the system and control it on my terms. :-)

--charlie, 19-Apr-2006

Who was it who said that "any system that can be gamed will be gamed, regardless of whether it actually gains any advantage?" ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 20-Apr-2006

If I can define sparse calendars for friends, groups of friends and/or event types, combine them in and/or/xor rules, that would give me roughly what I'm looking for. Meetings are not my friends, so I don't share my full calendar with them ;)

--Paul Jardine, 27-Apr-2006

"Sparse calendars"... I like that.

--JanneJalkanen, 27-Apr-2006

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