Tag Archives: requirements

Collaboration Channels – I don’t want to think about protocols

Burton Group talks about the distinction between Channels and Workspaces in Collaboration. Channels are routes where information flows. Workspaces are areas where collaborators gather. Examples of Workspaces are Wikis, shared document repositories, group calendar software.

Channels are things like email, chat, VoIP, video conferencing and telephony. The problem with Channels is that we have to be protocol centric. We have to think – I want to communicate with Keith. Let see if the Chat protocol will work (e.g. is he on-line in chat?) if not I’ll send an email but maybe I’ll call too. I want to be person centric: I want to communicate with Keith.

In my ideal scenario, I would select Keith as a contact and I would then see communication options TEXT, VOICE, VIDEO. I could then select that I want to do VOICE. I would pick up my headset and my computer would establish a connection. On Keith’s end, he would choose to have VOICE channeled to Skype or iChatAV or to his cell phone or home phone number. He might even have a priority list (if Skype is running, use Skype otherwise send to Cell Phone). He might send VOICE directly to an MP3 (to voicemail) that he can listen to later.

On the TEXT side, I would select TEXT and either be connected to IM or asked to form an email depending on KEITH’s availability setting in IM.

The IM logs should flow into a repository that is similar to my (if not the same as my) email repository.

There are times when I would like to pick the protocol, when I would send and email even though Keith is on IM.

On the receiver end, I would need better presence management. I would need a unified presence control – a central place where I could manage the flow of information into my channels. I would have to swap managing protocols for managing presence.

Yet more calendar requirements

Ben Teitelbaum of Internet2 pushes his availability to his web site from his calendar application. He “takes Apple iCal’s iCalendar file and strips out the subject, location and agenda for each item, leaving only an availability mask” which he feeds to PHP iCalendar. This makes scheduling time for a phone call with Ben very easy.

Calendar applications should provide a configurable feed for this data that could easily be picked up by another person or by a blog plugin to do what Ben has done with slick scripts.

Oracle Calendar allows for searching of resources and people but you have to anchor the search with the correct starting characters. Example: I can search for the DoIT ARCH LCD PROJECTOR with DoIT ARCH and find the item but not with ARCH LCD PROJECTOR.

Name aliases: Oracle Calendar doesn’t understand (in LDAP lookups as we have it configured at least) that Jim might equal James.

Three more Calendar Requirements

I would also like to be able to tag calendar events with keywords then bring up a list of events that match a given keyword or suite of keywords. I have a bunch of presentations that I am giving on my calendar. I don’t remember what all of them are. I would like to search for events with the keyword: presenting and see the list. I have to go through my calendar, week by week, to look at the up-coming presentations.

Also, I want to be able to bind email to a calendar event. I have an email request to present at a given time and place. I want to be able to attach that email to the event.

Finally, I should be able to attach, flag, tag events which I do not control but have been invited too. I should be able to add my own notes for myself, my own details, etc. even though I do not control the invite.

Why don’t calendars do Time Zones?

My laptop and my palm both understand Time Zones. I understand Time Zones. Why don’t my calendar applications (Oracle’s Calendar and the Palm Calendar in the handheld) understand Time Zones. What I want:

(1) When I create an appointment I should be able to mark the Time Zone for the appointment. I should also be able to make appointments that are Time Zone neutral – not tied to a Time Zone.
(2) My clients (Palm and Desktop and Web) should all understand Time Zones and should be able to shift the alarms to compensate for my changes in Time Zone.

How would I use this? Well…

– If I get an invite to join a conference call at 11AM EST, I could just enter that time without adjusting for my local time zone. Same with UTC time.
– If I changed time zones (say fly from Madison to San Francisco), my alarms would change to be appropriate. As it is now, if I fly to California, I need to keep track of the fact that the 10AM meeting is really a 10AM Central time so I need to set an alarm 2 hours earlier.
– But I can’t do a global change because some things might be dinners in California so they need to stay on Pacific time.

We have these bright machines that understand our location and time zones. This is the perfect task to offload to these systems. It is simple and fussy and requires sifting through events and applying rules. Perfect work for a computer.