Back in March, I wrote about the sorry state of local event information in my home town. There are lots of online calendars -- the newspaper, colleges, and various event venues all have them -- but if you want a comprehensive view, you can't do better than tour the downtown and check out the posters stuck on windows and kiosks.
I wondered why online services like upcoming.org hadn't yet gone viral, and I made a few suggestions, which were well received. But to be honest, the Keene, NH metro in Upcoming is no more lively now -- a day after Yahoo acquired Upcoming -- than it was six months ago.
Case in point: the Betty Dylan band is coming to Keene on Sunday and Monday. I know this because a friend organized the event. But neither of the venues' websites -- Railroad Tavern and Keene State College -- has the information. Nor does the Keene Sentinel. What's more, none of these three websites makes calendar information available as RSS feeds.
Yahoo's acquisition of Upcoming will certainly help move things along. As will the growing visibility of other such services, notably
EVDB Eventful. But since I expect no single one of these to dominate, or to supplant the existing calendars maintained by newspapers, colleges, and other venues, we have to think in terms of syndication and federation.
RSS is a big part of the story. Calendar publishers need to learn that information made available in RSS format will flow to all the event sites as well as to individual subscribers.
APIs are crucial as well. Happily, they're offered by both Upcoming and EVDB.
Compare the Upcoming and EVDB records for the Keene metro. The superset of these records is more useful than either individually: one lacks a precise address, the other lacks the theater's URL. Similarly, the superset of venues tracked by these (and other) services will, over time, be more complete than the sets tracked by individual services.
APIs provide the technical foundation for federating this information, but the social protocols are yet to be worked out. Who is motivated -- and would be trusted by the community -- to own this process? My hunch is that local newspapers are the ideal candidates for this role.
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/10/06.html#a1316