Calendars in the Cloud

Extracted 22JUN2012 from

For most people the personal cloud means two things: It’s your data up there, plus apps and services that work with your data and connect you to other people and their data. For me there’s a third dimension. I’m the developer of a service that helps people connect with other people by way of their calendars in the cloud. I started a couple of years ago, when Azure first launched, and I’ve been evolving the elmcity calendar syndication service ever since.

The service currently supports hubs for about 50 cities and towns. In theory it can support thousands. Will it get there? That depends only on my ability to build the right service, show the benefits of the loosely coupled syndication model I’m evangelizing, and convince key stakeholders in cities and towns to adopt it. It depends not at all on my ability to deploy and manage servers, operating systems, or networks, for which I am deeply grateful...

Nowadays I talk to a lot of folks who publish calendars on their websites. The vast majority of these calendars, as I’ve mentioned before, don’t support the internet standard for the exchange of calendar data, and don’t provide online data feeds that are open to syndication. When I explain this to people in schools, libraries, businesses, chambers of commerce, and arts councils, they invariably want to refer me to their webmaster, IT person, or resident geek. Because providing a machine-readable data feed on the web just seems like it ought to require somebody like that.

Well it used to, but no more. Now I show people how they can simply create a new calendar, in a cloud-based app like Google Calendar or Hotmail Calendar, that can serve both as a webpage for visitors to their site and as a data feed for syndication. If they can think it, and write it, they can put it where any person (or any computer) can use it. In so doing they become creators, not just consumers, of cloud-based services. It’s wonderfully empowering.