A demonstration calendar for Ann Arbor, Michigan

Following up on yesterday’s entry, here is an instance of the calendar aggregator for Ann Arbor, Michigan, a town I lived in for a long time and remember fondly: Events in and around Ann Arbor.

It’s controlled by a Delicious account — delicious.com/a2cal — which I’ll happily relinquish to a more appropriate curator.

There are two primary sources of information. First, events posted to Eventful.com at locations within 15 miles of Ann Arbor. Second, Google calendars that turn up in a search for Ann Arbor.

My notion was that this would be a nice way to bootstrap an instance of the aggregator. Not all the Google calendars will be appropriate, and there are of course many other iCalendar feeds that I don’t know about and can’t easily find. But there’s enough here to serve as a proof of concept, and maybe attract the interest of one or more curators. As a curator, you’d do things like:

  1. Tweak the template and the image. (Josh Band, I cropped your photo just as a placeholder, hope that’s OK.)
  2. Weed out inappropriate feeds.
  3. Add new feeds.
  4. Edit feed titles, and provide url=http://HOMEPAGE tags so that all events link somewhere.

Unfortunately, just as I was gearing up to roll out this approach, the Search Public Calendars feature of Google Calendar went AWOL. (Perhaps, as one commenter suggests, as a security measure.) I had searched out Ann Arbor iCalendar feeds a couple of weeks ago, and saved the list, but that procedure isn’t repeatable now for Ann Arbor or anywhere else.

In any case, I hope this illustrates the idea. One or more curators maintain a list of feeds for a community, and the service aggregates them. If you’d like to play along, create a Delicious account along the lines of delicious.com/elmcity or delicious.com/a2cal and let me know about it.

10 Comments

  1. > Why not to add microformats for the
    > events?

    Obviously can, and will. But the first-order problem to solve is getting people to publish events a) at all, and b) in machine-processable form. Most people do not distinguish between publishing a PDF, a spreadsheet, a Web page, or an iCalendar feed. You and I know that only the iCalendar feed is structured in a way that supports syndication, and that also makes it possible to publish microformats in web pages.

    So that’s the first-order problem: Get people to push iCalendar feeds and curate registries of them.

  2. Definitely some exciting developments here. We’re pursuing a more standardized data interchange format for events on the back end, but increasing the “scrapability” and consistency of events on the front end is certainly the first step.

    Here’s a brief intro to the ELF format: http://blog.localist.com/post/81167133/the-case-for-an-event-listing-format-elf

    Additionally, serving the events in a decentralized manor is something we’re actively looking into. Good to see we’re not the only ones!

    This is exciting!

    Mykel

  3. My only relation I had to her was that she occasionally posted on a listserv I moderate. I sent her a link to your work and she immediately phoned me. But she had her own ideas about how to scale nationwide and to monetize that did not and still do not include feeds. Such as it is…

    BTW – I started using del.icio.us tags to find related content on your site.

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