Great to see you at the official Calendar42 blog! We like to share our thoughts, ideas, and insights with you guys, please feel free to add any comments or input you might have!
One of the previous projects Calendar42’s founders were involved in is Plakkies. A volunteer project which cooperated closely with African countries. Here we learned of the concept of ‘African Time’. A whole different way of interpreting the concept of time. While in western countries we find it particularly important that when we make appointments, we schedule a start and end time (and stick to these times), in cultures where you find ‘African Time’ this is considered as (complete and utter) nonsense.
Perhaps you’ll recognize this from one of your holidays: you make an appointment with a tour guide at 9.00 in the morning. You’re eager to see and get to know the country and its culture. After you’ve waited impatiently for an hour and grown ‘a bit’ frustrated, the tour guide finally shows up. When you ask why he is this late, he shrugs and explains that he had to walk all the way after bringing his daughter to school. You still feel frustrated, but you also understand that these things happen sometimes and it’s a holiday after all, so you shake of the feeling to enjoy the rest of your day. Later, you learn that he takes his daughter to school every day at 9 o’clock and can’t afford to travel any other way than by foot… The only thing you can think is, “why the heck did he agree to meet us at 9 in the first place, then?!”. But what you don’t realize is that 9.00 isn’t 9.00 exactly, necessarily, when everyone knows each other’s situation, makes allowances for it and accepts that time is fluid and 9.00 is usually ‘9.00 or as soon as possible after’.
This is a perfect illustration of the big difference between the time awareness of ‘African Time’ cultures and western culture.
Calendar42 wouldn’t have existed without African time. We learned about this concept and also learned to not only see the differences in values and way of life, but also notice the shifts that take place, changing the way we live and perceive time. Based on research we can safely state that western countries, more and more, are shifting shift towards a polychromic way of life and drifting away from monochronicity.
Creating beautiful data
Calendar42 users share their days with us. By including all their appointments in their calendars, and for instance choosing pre-trip the ways in which and the roads and routes they want to travel and on-trip the adjustments they wish to make depending on specific situations, they share their intentions and plans.
By having all these events and journeys in our system we’re creating a lot of beautiful (real-time) data. Personal data, sometimes of a sensitive nature, which we handle with great care and respect for users’ privacy, but which also contains an huge potential. Data that could give public transport providers insight in how many people plan to travel a certain route, allowing them to anticipate before problems arise. Or data that allows event organizers to know when the crowds are arriving and where they’re coming from, allowing them to run a safer operation. Data that’s currently used already to gain insight into the traffic congestion problems in a major Dutch city.
This data can help companies and organisations to create more efficient and sustainable services and business operations, while at the same time allowing them to create a better experience for people.
Designed around translucence with the user in control
As mentioned before, we handle user data with great care. We always make sure it’s transparent for users what happens with their data, and they always have the option to turn features on or off, also based on information on what’s in it for them, when relevant.
Having said that we believe in social self-regulation, meaning we don’t like to build systems based on rules who can or can’t perform certain actions. Instead, Calendar42 is designed based on translucence, which revolves around visibility, awareness and accountability. This concept requires a certain level of transparency in order for people to be held accountable for their actions. In practice this means that, for example, we choose to show information on who invited who with all people connected to an event, instead of forcing any one authorised person or group of people to grant and revoke other people’s rights. This way, people’s existing social interaction and rules are leading and people can address others directly if they invite someone they weren’t supposed to, while keeping the systems and applications simple.
In our last blog we introduced you to the artificially intellligent personal assistant in Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ (2013), arguably one of the possible future shapes of Ella, the ‘voice of the Calendar42 system’. We thought we might put your mind at ease just a little.
Imagine a near future in which we all use OSes to assist us in our daily lives. The new OS1 comes out, advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness”. The ultimate smart personal assistant. You decide to buy it and opt for it to have a female voice. She names herself ‘Samantha’, and you are quickly fascinated and drawn in by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. Samantha helps you with your social planning and travel needs. She proves to be constantly available, always curious and interested, delightful, supportive and undemanding. As you start spending time together you bond, over discussions about life and love, you grow closer and closer and eventually find yourselves in love.
In the summer of 2009 Michel Boerrigter and I (Jasper Hartong) formed the initial vision to create a smart personal assistant. We were both intrigued by the amount of possibilities new (mobile) technology brought forward and the lack of innovation in applications until then, to truly change the way we live. After several brainstorms in the course of over six months, we had defined a huge opportunity in bringing intelligence to the calendar. An application that seems to know everything a person is planning to do, but does not much more than sit on top of that behavioural data gold mine.
Calendar42 seamlessly integrates real-time up-to-date travel information into your daily life. Based on your appointments, conversations, current location and actual traffic situations, it makes sure you always have the right information at hand.
Since we released our mobile app we have been working around the clock to improve it. Currently the main goal of the app is still to support our Flex42 and Track42 users, although it also already gained traction among other adventurous planners.
2006, was the year Google came into the digital calendar market with their online system “Google Calendar“. From the beginning of the nineties, until this point, little innovation had actually taken place in digital calendars. Although they were definitely not the first to bring the digital calendar online, its entry was met with high expectations.
Yes! We have won, not one, but two awards in the European ITS in your pocket 2014 competition.
Calendar42 became first in the category: ‘Boost the use of multimodal transportation’, one of the three main categories at the event. Next to that we also won an additional award for the ‘Best application utilizing open data’. Winning two out of six awards with forty-six submissions from twenty countries felt pretty awesome.
A flexible lifestyle is defined as a way of living in which people plan their life by easily and last- minute responding to the dynamic circumstances surrounding them. People with this lifestyle have a shorter planning horizon and tend to act more impulsive. For instance responding on the weather by procrastinating work to the evening as to still enjoy a bit of the unexpected sunshine in the afternoon. Or arriving late at a meeting just to get a cup of coffee with a friend that has been away for a while.