One of the principles of what I am starting to call social cognition — the subtle shift in our consciousness as we are exposed to social tools — is that we share time online, not space. This make it quite unlike our interactions in the offline context.
And the corollary is that our time, increasingly, is not our own. But I mean this in a positive sense.
One of the outcomes of this is that we need better, shared representation of our time together. In the business context this is tied to the coordination of our work around shared goal, and the alignment of time with mission.
I read an interesting post by Mike Monteiro of Mule (via @steverubel), that explores some ideas about the relationship of time fragments and their linkage to goals:
Mike Monteiro, The Chokehold Of Calendars
The problem with calendars is that they are additive rather than subtractive. They approach your time as something to add to rather than subtract from. Adding a meeting is innocuous. You’re acting on a calendar. A calendar isn’t a person. It isn’t even a thing. It’s an abstraction. But subtracting an hour from the life of another human being isn’t to be taken lightly. It’s almost violent. It’s certainly invasive. Shared calendars are vessels you fill by taking things away from other people.
“I’m adding a meeting” should really be “I’m subtracting an hour from your life.”
We need a goal-oriented calendar, but first we need to understand why a goal-oriented calendar is necessary.
Imagine that rather than scheduling individual points in time, such as meetings, you were instead scheduling a goal. With all its dependencies with it. A simplified model might look like this:
By handling events as something we work towards and need time to produce things for, rather than as disruptive singularities, and by respecting that work time as something associated with a goal we achieve a calendar that shows both those meetings, now less inane, and the time time necessary to do the work that will make those meetings successful.
Most of these things currently exist. Across multiple applications. And badly. Now it’s time to fix that.
I agree with Monteiro.
I also believe that calendars that will be smart about why and how we work will also be integrated with streams. For example, commentary and work products (a deck, say) that we create in support of a meeting could be annotated with appropriate metadata so they would stream to the participants and be attached appropriately to the meeting object, as well.