We’ve always been a big fan of the events calendar on SciFi.com. Not because we are Stargate: SG-1 junkies, but because we thought it was a good example of building community as well as editorial content getting better through user participation. Craig E. Engler, a general manager at SciFi.com, told us that one-quarter of all events on the calendar are submitted by their fans. “They usually send us things that we might otherwise miss on our own, so it balances our work nicely,” Engler wrote in an email.
Calendar sharing and collaboration is not a new concept to the Internet. There several tools out there that do it well, such as Groove, Yahoo! and MeetingMaker. However, we just want one app, such as Apple’s iCal, that allows us to publish and subscribe to various calendars for business, home and other uses.
As we were testing Apple’s iCal for the first time this weekend, we were reminded of the potential of delivering news and information via a calendar. After installing iCal, we subscribed to a bunch of calendars on Apple’s site and on the iCalShare blog. That was simple, straightforward. Within a matter of minutes, we had several sports team calendars, as well as new Movie and DVD release calendars imported into iCal.
Unfortunately, these calendars are not information rich. The DVD feed, for example, had no description of the film in the event “notes” field. The “notes” field is an ideal container for news and information. For films or DVDs, the notes field could contain a capsule review, cast info, showtimes, tickets info, rental availability and purchase information.
On a sports calendar, such as a the Detroit Red Wings, you could have iCal refresh the content daily, updating old events with the game results, as well as adding story links, box scores and non-game Red Wings events (see client and web example). The calendar we downloaded was adequate — in two seconds we imported the 82-game schedule. But it’s a one-time subscription of commodity data. Calendars are an excellent opportunity for media organizations (and businesses) to provide news and get closer to their customers.
Our advice to news media:
the one comment i would have is audience. although the i-mac (bless it) brought the Mac into many more mainstream american homes, i wonder if there really is big enough userbase of ical in a particular market for a newspaper to distribute info for it.
if they can get it to be a standard, though, maybe a larger news corp could leverage all their properties to make a useful national calendar for different niche groups.
we’re currently trying a grand community calendar experiment and it’s working well so far, but we were forced into using Waveshift’s (bought by Nando) product. while it’s ‘ok,’ it really isn’t in shape for something like this. we’ll see where it goes, though. nando seems up to the task to improve it.
i really like the movie listing idea. better for the media to start thinking of things now instead of waiting eons like they did with the internet. we can kinda see it coming now, so there’s no excuse really…
kpaul, iCalendar is a standard. It’s the newest iteration of the vCard format used by Outlook, etc. And Microsoft’s Outlook - on Mac or PC - will import the iCalendar format (.ics). There might be some confusion here because the name of Apple’s product and the name of the standard (iCalendar) are the same.
yeah, a little confusing. ;)
plus, i started my comment before reading the whole piece. (that’ll teach me.)
this is definitely something i want to look into more.
it’s been a pain going to 80 or so organizations and seeing what (if any) calendar software they’re using. the latest includes the local university’s sports department. i found out they’re using vignette. should be interesting.
maybe i can pass the standards idea on to nando media and they could implement it into mycalendar. would be cool.
I’d really like to use iCal as an autoresponder service. It’s the ultimate interface for planning ahead, writing future posts and connecting events to each other.