Calendar of events Project Idea

I’d like to see a calendar of events but it looks like the Silicon Canal website will have this when ready?

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Sorta. Silicon Canal concentrates rather on startup and entrepreneur events, although they’re happy to have other events appear on their calendar. Basically everyone who’s tried to set up an All Of Birmingham’s Tech Stuff calendar has said “OK, here is a calendar: submit your event!” and that is, in my opinion, why it hasn’t worked. I think what this needs is for three things:

  1. someone to take responsibility for getting all the Birmingham tech events into one calendar. It is not the event organiser’s job to get their event into the One Calendar; it is the One Calendar team’s job to go out and find all the events. This is, historically, the thing that nobody wants to do. I plan to do it (I have put some serious thinking into this (post from a year ago about it)), but I have another project I want to do first. So if someone else wants to do this, please do go for it, but I’m quite serious about how I am totally convinced that expecting event organisers to do the work for you will fail. This means going to each event organiser and saying “so, how can we know when your event is?”. If they say “it’s in meetup”, build a meetup importer. If they say “it’s on the blog”, build an RSS importer. If they say “it’s every two weeks on a Thursday”, then create a Google calendar for them and help them out with it, and then add that to the One Calendar. It cannot be the event organiser’s job; they have no motive to get on board with this calendar, which will be approximately the 10th attempt to make one which covers all Birmingham events, all of which have failed because they did five events and then made it event organisers’ jobs to add themselves.
  2. Come up with a branding for the calendar. A little badge or logo. And then have every event organiser agree to add that badge to their website, and it links to the calendar.
  3. Ask each event organiser to mention, somehow, to their attendees that there’s this new calendar which has everything in it.

This ensures the following:

  1. every event’s in the calendar. So people don’t need to follow 5 different calendars, like I do.
  2. People who only know about one event will, eventually, discover that the calendar exists and thus discover other events that they might like.
  3. There’s a sense of belonging, of feeling like one central thing.
  4. There’s no kingmaking here. Nobody’s trying to say “I am the Official Arbiter Of Which Events Count”. Talk to everyone.
  5. Techie people don’t start by building a bunch of clever code importers and a submission form and then expect everyone to use it. The tech is not the hard part here. Do not do it first. (I have to stop myself, every day, from doing the tech first.)

Once the calendar hits about 80% saturation coverage of events it’s reasonable that everyone else will want to be in it to because it will have become the place to discover what’s going on. There are a couple of hard questions (what’s a tech event? how far away from central Birmingham does it extend?) but they’re things that can be sorted with reasoned debate (and to some extent fiat decision).

That’s what I think. Pay particular attention to point 5 about not building the tech first. :smile:

@sil I agree one person needs collect everything they can, this has been the approach I’ve taken with planet.birmingham. However, as with planet, I see no reason that anyone can’t add an event they heard about. Seems like on the technical side google calendar and some manual updates (for ones that don’t repeat consistently) could work.

Edit: fixed typo @sil pointed out.

Assuming that’s meant to read “I see no reason why anyone can’t add an event they’ve heard about”, then I agree with you in theory, but I think if the calendar team are doing their job right then nobody will need to, and if there’s a submission form then it’s just way too easy to sit back and make it event organisers’ problem to keep the calendar up to date. The submission form should exist once the calendar is already the one that everybody uses, I think.

@sil Yeah, that’s right it was a typo. To me, it’s not so much the event organiser’s job, as it is anyone who’s active on Birmingham.IO’s job to add the events they come across. Most of these things start off well, but when the main people are busy or on holiday things get left - so having it so anyone can edit helps fill in the gaps. Also, I know from planet stuff that it’s really hard to find all of something.

I think it is the event organisers job to submit their details to the one calendar, if they don’t then in my opinion the one calendar isn’t good enough. Organisers should want their events on the calendar. It’ll take some time to get to this point though (as @sil mentions this isn’t the first attempt) which is why I also think it should be easy enough for anyone to submit an event to the calendar. I’d happily add events I find to the calendar in the same way I tweet about them or (could) add it as an event on the forums.

What would really help get the calendar started though is, as mentioned, a someone (or small group of someones) to start it off and commit to updating it until it reaches saturation point in the same way that @LimeBlast has been so active on the forums to get the ball rolling. I’d be happy to volunteer some time occasionally to be one of the someones who adds events to get it started.

I think would be a great subdomain to showcase all the events that Birmingham has to offer and a good way to promote the whole community.

Related IndieWeb reading: - a bit difficult for non-indiewebbers but one possible idea could be an aggregator that people submit links to their events to. I don’t know enough about this just yet but I am looking into it ATM.

Great. Then don’t start a new calendar. Wait for everyone to submit their events to (see their spreadsheet, linked from the site in development right now). And And And And And Every one of those is a list started by someone to be a calendar or summary for all tech events in Birmingham, who then said “it is now everyone else’s job to fill this list in”. And it did not work. If you’re honestly of the belief that it’s an event organiser’s job to find your calendar, rather than your job to find event organisers, then please please don’t contribute to yet another new flawed empty attempt to create a list of events. Contribute to one of the ones we already have – livebrum, perhaps, because they’ve got lots of other types of events and it might help with crossover.

My two cents on this is pretty much the same as @sil’s opinion - while it would be awesome to be the calendar that everyone wants to submit to, that simply isn’t going to happen. Instead it needs to be a project that curated by a person (or team) on a weekly/daily basis. Their job would be to be on the look out for events, and update the calendar accordingly.

The problem is that this is a thankless job, and one which would take a lot of effort to do properly - so our first hurdle would be trying to find said person/team. I certainly don’t want to do it (too busy with other things).

The other problem I see with this is that it appears a few people have already tried, and failed. While this is an awesome concept, I’m concerned it’s one which simply might not work - but I don’t know, and I’d be happy for someone to prove me wrong :blush:

What if we get Stuart Bates to move his calendar here? (his is by far the most populated already) and get the permissions changed so there are bunch of people trusted to edit it (e.g. @Limeblast, @sil, me and anyone else who’s keen enough to maintain it)

I think this is a great idea. Does anyone know him to ask him?

I also like the idea of it being a Google Calendar (why reinvent the wheel?), as it provides everything we need, and offers a (I’m assuming) nice API to hook in to.

@sil and I both know him

Ya, that’d certainly work. I wouldn’t want to approach Stuart B until we’re at a point where a team of people are prepared to say that they’ll commit some serious time to speaking to everyone who runs an event, and ask those people when their event is, get it into the calendar, and convince the event organiser to link back to the calendar from their own site and mention the calendar to their meetup, once it’s released. Are there enough people prepared to commit to that?

I’m willing to put time into make it happen if you (@sil) are.

Sounds fair, and I am. Who else is in?

I think the way to approach it is to attempt to put together a super-comprehensive list of all events (this is not the actual calendar for the public; it’s the internal checklist), and then for each one, find a contact, talk to them about being in the calendar, talk to them about linking back to the calendar from their site, and about talking to their own meetup, yes? Finding out from them where they publish details of their event is important here – if they, say, put them on meetup, then that goes into our “need to extract these details from’s API” list, etc.

In parallel with this, someone with design skills could do a little badge/button which goes on everyone’s website and says “we’re in the [what ever] calendar”, but we need a name first :smile:

I’m happy to put myself forward as the representative of Birmingham Open Code (and maybe WMRUG), as well as updating the calendar with any events which are posted on the forum.

I get the feeling we don’t have any designery people here at all…

There haven’t been any design centric discussion so I’m guessing not many designers. I’m hoping @zer0mike will help with calendar badge though. For the badge, I wonder if we should make it dynamic (javascript/iframe) so it tells you the next upcoming event.

The iframe approach would be clever, but requires everyone to have their own unique code for the badge. I’m inclined to start with just an image, for simplicity…?

I meant next upcoming event out of all of them not just theirs (so everyone with the banner has the same content). It might actually be easier to start with the iframe version (or at least iframe with an static image to start), because getting people to change after would be hard.

Huh. Agreed on starting with the iframe so that everyone doesn’t have to change, but I’m not sure you could put the next event on there; I don’t think there’d be room, would there? I am imagining the badge as looking like:

…We’re listed in the…

and being the size of one of those “available on the App Store” buttons; it’s small so it can fit into anyone’s design without interfering.

I don’t see why we can’t have a couple of different options.

To start with, a simple button (such as the app store examples presented) would be a good start, then once we’ve got a few people using them, ask if anyone would be willing to put a dynamic button on their site - it could be that no one would want to or (such as in the case of events run via might not be able to.

We do kind of need to work out what to call it however. Personally, I’d be happy with something like The Birmingham.IO Calendar, but then I’m somewhat bias :wink:

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