Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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The Problem with Calendars

Frequently I don’t realize how interesting an idea is until I find myself repeating it six months later. That’s the case with this post by Mike Monteiro about calendar design. In it he argues that the whole idea of scheduling meetings for people based on the availability in their calendar drives a very bad behavior, mainly assuming that just because something isn’t scheduled that the person is free. As he puts it, “‘I’m adding a meeting’ should really be ‘I’m subtracting an hour from your life.'”

What if your calendar worked the opposite way? All time was filled by default and people had to extract from your day when scheduling things. This would move the onus to make a case for the meeting to the scheduler rather than the schedulee. I can even imagine taking it a step further and adding a set of prompts as the person schedules asking if this meeting is really important and whether it really needs to be an hour. In general it highlights a real problem we all face, though: We let software dictate the way we behave rather than vice-versa. If you use iCal you probably have lots of one hour meetings, not because they need to be an hour, but because that’s the default amount of time a new event has and people’s tendency is to no adjust that.

May 19, 2011