A co-worker pointed out this morning that Google Calendar has added some interesting functions to its calendar-publishing functionality. I used to have a choice of making “Month View” or “Agenda View” available to anyone who happens onto my public schedule. At first, these were frustrating views for me. Month View is pretty unworkable unless you only have 2 or 3 things happening in a given day, and unless nobody cares when your events end. So I used Agenda view, and just made sure to write that I was “Available between 2:30 and 4:15,” for example. Well, now I’m allowed to have “Week View,” which is much easier to take in at a glance since it’s got the familiar bubbles of filled-in time.
So when my co-worker pointed out that this was now possible, I jumped on the opportunity to make my schedule even easier to understand quickly. Not only that, but since I’m now allowed to include multiple calendars in my publicly viewed page, I could add in the times when I’m at the desk so that my students would know where to come look for me if they wanted quick help or to negotiate a better meeting time.
But now I’ve realized that my system may not work as wonderfully as I had thought it would. Now my available time shows up looking like an appointment rather than like a space between appointments.
Ok, I thought. Why not just change the whole thing into a “times when I’m busy” calendar rather than a “times when I’m available” calendar. But I’m strangely reluctant to do that. I liked having something analogous to office hours, even if my office hours were intended to be by appointment, weren’t consistent day to day or week to week, and changed minute by minute as I agreed to meetings and was no longer “available.” I also liked the straightforward message: “I am available for you now.” It’s just more welcoming and encouraging than the implied message of a “busy times” calendar, which says in effect, “I’m not scheduled during these times, but that doesn’t mean that they’re inherently good times for me to meet with you.”
Then the practical side of me gets up and laughs heartily at this musing side of me. Does it really matter that much? I know full well that of the students who come see me, only a fraction of them depend on that calendar when making their appointments. It gets used more often by librarians at the reference desk who want to refer a student to me for private consultation, by faculty, and by librarians at other schools who want to set up meetings with me. And all of these groups of people should be able to navigate the system even if it’s not absolutely perfectly designed.
And yet I want to get it right. So I guess I’ll do what I always do: try out various ideas until I either decide it’s right or I decide it’s impossible to make right.