Everywhere a calendar

Show me more time-aligned data

Everywhere a calendar

Most data - my data, that I manage on platforms or in apps - has a time component. It’s either explicit (“this happened then”) or implicit (“this was true as of this time”); data <=> facts, and facts incorporate time. I should be able to view (and ideally manipulate!) that time in tools dedicated to visualizing time: calendars.

Calendar apps are having a bit of a moment right now? The new Hey calendar and the new Notion calendar were recently released, but I’m a bit confused by what they thought needed to be improved. Neither really brings more into the calendar; they mostly just allow you to annotate. At least the Hey calendar adds some fun things like day labels and photos and habits and a scrollable view. The Notion calendar is just a regular calendar (a la Google or Apple) but with links to Notion pages for each event. But neither really allows me to understand my time beyond calendar events and TODO items.

But calendars are the real representation of how I spend my life: a timeline stretching backward and forward from the present. My life is time-governed and time-aligned. Devon Zuegel’s post about their numerous calendars convinced me that calendars are a vise for wrangling your time. And the fact that none of these “re-imaginations” of the calendar interface really show me more of my life just reinforces that we don’t need new apps to improve this - we need access to our data/life ​in the calendars we already use​.

I was reading Maggie Appleton’s post about speculative events in calendars and Julian Lehr’s post about bringing more of his past life into the calendar and I think we’re ​so close​! I already manage my speculative events in their own dedicated calendar. When an event is confirmed, I simply edit which calendar it belongs to - making it official and marking my time as taken. I subscribe to public calendars, too: moon phases, holidays, astronomy and NASA events, etc. All I need to make both worlds possible is to have more data available as iCal feeds. (An iCal feed doesn’t just have to be prospective, future events - it’s equally valuable providing purely historical data for analysis and alignment.)

I want to see my sleep from previous nights and view speculative events in the future and see the album I was listening to last month and see my workouts from last year and see my reading highlights1 from last week and see movies coming out next spring and Meetup events coming up.

Exposing the inherent time component of (nearly all) data allows most things in my life to become time-aligned and allows me to spot inter-alignment between them. As always, your app is not better than an open protocol. I’ve been saying this for 8 years now, and it’s still true. Make your data available via open protocol and people will use it more and will make amazing things with it.

  1. Could you translate an RSS feed to ICAL? Here’s an attempt from 9 years ago. Here’s another from who knows how long ago.