The first panel has:
Mitch Kapor, from OSAF: Why has Chandler focused on calendaring? Because we learned that with a gigantic vision it can’t all get done – need to innovate in a series of leaps. There’s much more pain around calendars than mail right now. The killer feature for the rest of us is to make it easy to share calendars in a variety of ways. Nothing has gotten above the bar so far, and when there is something usable there will be a lot of users who will adopt it. Outlook and Exchange have an enterprise focus when you get to calendar sharing – 200 million of them but zero of everybody else. We bring a bunch of skill and a good team, and a commitment to see something through. To get something that a big corporation might use is a huge undertaking.
Yori Nelkin – Timebridge is a coordination platform – view is that a scheduling is not a database loolup problem of free/busy – you may be free but not unless certain conditions are met. It’s a transactional exchange that, even in a business environment is very social. They plug into email as well as calendar – Outlook initially. There’s a lot of hidden motivations behind what people are doing, their goal is to keep as many balls in the air as people want until they make decisions – waiting to see who else is attending, what the agenda is, etc. Make a decision when it needs to be made, not before. Esther notes that the amount of disclosure is an issue – Yori provides some control of disclosure, but leans towards openness. Continuing conversations “out of band” in email is consistent with Timebridge. Shooting for release on Feb 8 or March 12.
Ray Ozzie – Esther asks – what would you like to do? Ray notes that he’s not in the Outlook group. Outlook in general – the things he’s seen indicates that it’s continuing to make forward progress, in a classic MS Office way each release continues to bring new features. Release 12 brings significant UI enhancements – no menus! Calendaring module now supplies overlaid calendars and integrated tasks. One of the pain points is managing many different sets of calendar entries and contacts with many different people – would like to have a mesh of sharing. Uses Outlook as an agregator, but would like to have co-editing of things with other people. Got together with some lead developers with Outlook, Exchange, MSN, Windows Mobile and asked why can’t we share among the products? Brainstormed and decided on agreement of two very simple things: vcards to represent contacts and icalendar to represent single events. Publish those with RSS, including some categorization. SSE is a way of synchronizing subscriptions bilaterallly. Individual products should take these things deep – whether it’s Chandler, Trumba, or Outlook.
Raymie Stata (Yahoo!) – Started Bloomba with an email client, with a specific vision to make email better – found that calendaring is really where the pain is – the tag line of the company was “change your outlook”. But learned that Exchange was really where the pain was. The innovation was to put the conflict resolution into the client so that the server side is simple storage, like WebDAV. There’s a mindset around these products – there’s what Exchange and Notes do today, but what we see in new products like Upcoming (not part of Yahoo) is a view of scheduling and event management that breaks out of that box – view of social relationships that is not contemplated in corporate products – the desire to talk about and discover events. The work around events at Yahoo will lead to being able to do “bloomba-like things” within a social network.
Esther – you can’t really manage time, but only what you do with it. What you really want to do is manage specific kinds of activities – the challenge is to represent activities, knowing which people, documents, etc are part of an event. The challenge is to represent the activity in software as something that happens over time, whether it’s a budget cycle or your kids’ college application process.
Mitch – Chandler made a choice to start out delivering the basics – in their case calendar with sharing, in order gain momentum through adoption. The price is that it will take them longer to get to fancy features. There’s a lot of web momentum around David Allen’s Getting Things Done. OSAF has drunk some of that kool-aid, which is activity oriented – tasks, projects, next actions. Your can use that system with a word processor, but that puts a lot of burden on the individual. Chandler will have some facilities to enable this kind of activity – tasks, emails, etc are all stored in a unified store, and have stamping, where you can make one item be multiple kinds of things – e.g. turn a task into an event so it has calendar-type attributes so you can structure its meaning in time. A lot of this is inherited from Lotus Agenda and will be experimental at first. Most open source projects do something that’s been done in other ways before within an open source context, but Chandler is trying to architect a project to do new things in an open source way. There’s a server piece called Cosmo, based on CalDAV for sharing. Mitch hopes to have some conversation with Ray later today about CalDAV and SSE and how to make things work together.
Esther – Innovation in calendaring seems to be coming from the consumer side, rather than the enterprise. Being enabled by the huge increase of people online.
Raymie – as we’ve been decomposing calendaring, at the end of the day what you manage is your commitments to other people at specific times. The calendar is to help you deal with that baseline commitment in ever more complicated lives, to make sure that you don’t overcommit. In introducing search into email, the amount of filing people do goes way down, saving people’s time. His theory is that the amount of time people spend organizing is constant – you can spend that time managing your past, by filing, or by organizing your future, by engaging in activity management.
Ray notes that the calendar is more than just commitments, but a shared space for exchanging information, including notes related to the calendar events.
Mitch notes that the 0.6 chandler release has shared read/write calendar sharing with a notes field – that’s the beginning of the kinds of things that Mitch is talking about.
Steve Farrell (IBM) – the hard thing is drawing links between disparate things that are part of the same activity.
Esther notes that she’s never seen a calendar that understands location – there’s general agreement. Mitch notes that there’s a timezone feature in Chandler, which is a step towards understanding location. Events have timezone attributes. It turns out that it’s difficult and nuanced to get something as simple as timezones right.
Mitch – read Getting Things DoneECAR 2005 Symposium – when that soaked into OSAF culture the way they did things really changed. If you’re looking to add value, look to make groups effective at working together – they all need help and tools and service, and that will drive innovation, more than what we do individually.
Esther – The role of the assistant is intriguing. More people in the room have lost assistants in the past three years than have acquired one. That’s a market.
Hans Bjordahl – The Outlook guy at Microsoft. It’s clear that time management is undergoing a shift from paper-based to electronic. They’re on board with ICal in the new release.