The elmcity project enables curators to create and manage calendar syndication hubs. These were never intended as destination sites, but rather as infrastructure to support what I’m calling attention hubs: newspapers, hyperlocal blogs, chambers of commerce, arts councils. Such organizations often want to build and display a comprehensive community calendar. They always fail to do so because of what I’m calling the Submit Your Event Antipattern, which looks like this:

I want attention hubs to align themselves with syndication hubs, and to give their contributors an alternative to the copy and paste approach to data syndication. But the attention hubs thus far mostly don’t want to participate. So now I’m trying a complementary approach to building networks of calendar feeds.

The elmcity concept is, after all, radically decentralized. So why should central attention hubs be gatekeepers governing the growth of these networks? They shouldn’t! They should be participants, but so should all the contributing sites.

The model I’ve come up with harkens back to the old idea of a webring: a group of sites that declare a shared interest in some topic. So, consider the hub I’ve built for New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region, which includes Keene, various surrounding towns, and (honorarily) Brattleboro, Vermont. The events flowing through this hub are, of course, tagged. Here’s the default URL for music:

http://elmcity.cloudapp.net/MonadnockNH/html?view=music

Here are the sources that are currently feeding into that view:

  • Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music
  • Fritz Belgian Fries (eventful)
  • Inferno (eventful)
  • McCue’s (eventful)
  • Metropolis Wine Bar (eventful)
  • Mole Hill Theatre (facebook)
  • Monadnock Folklore Society
  • Peterborough Folk Music Society
  • Railroad Tavern (eventful)
  • The Beacon (eventful)
  • The Listening Room at MindFull Books & Ephemera (eventful)
  • The Starving Artist (facebook)
  • Vermont Jazz Center (facebook)
  • Waxy O’Connors (facebook)

These venues represent the music scene in the Monadnock Region, and they have a collective interest in branding and promoting the scene. I’d like to help them do that. So I’ve made a widget-maker that produces a widget they can embed on their sites. Of course it doesn’t only work for the music scene in my region.Here are some other variations on the theme.

This will work for any of the hubs featured at elmcity.cloudapp.net. They’re all still in a bootstrap phase. I’ve seeded them with every iCalendar feed I’ve been able to find and categorize. The resulting views capture enough to be interesting and somewhat useful, but they aren’t yet embraced by the organizers of events. If you’re one such organizer, I’d love for you and the others who collectively form the music or arts or sports or tech scene in one of the places I’m targeting to try making and using a calendar webring.