Here’s Andy Baio’s farewell to Upcoming, a service I’ve been involved with for a decade. In a March 2005 blog post I wrote about what I hoped Upcoming would become, in my town and elsewhere, and offered some suggestions to help it along. One was a request for an API which Upcoming then lacked. Andy soon responded with an API. It was one of the pillars of my Elm City project for a long while until, as Andy notes in his farewell post, it degraded and became useless.
Today I pulled the plug and decoupled Upcoming from all the Elm City hubs.
In 2009 Andy and I both spoke at a conference in London. Andy was there to announce a new project that would help people crowdsource funding for creative projects. I was there to announce a project that would help people crowdsource public calendars. Now, of course, Kickstarter is a thing. The Elm City project not so much. But I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track, I’m lucky to be in a position to keep pursuing the idea, and although it’s taking longer than I ever imagined I’m making progress. Success, if it comes, won’t look like Upcoming did in its heyday, but it will be a solution to the same problem that Upcoming addressed — a problem we’ve yet to solve.
That same March 2005 blog post resonates with me for another reason. That was the day I walked around my town photographing event flyers on shop windows and kiosks. When I give presentations about the Elm City project I still show a montage of those images. They’re beautiful, and they’re dense with information that isn’t otherwise accessible.
Event flyers outperform web calendars, to this day, because they empower groups and organizations to be the authoritative sources for information about their public events, and to bring those events to the attention of the public. The web doesn’t meet that need yet but it can, and I’m doing my best to see that it does.