Event Information: Venues and Calendars

An event has both informational data as well as experiential data.  To capture events and make them available to people both types of data play important role.  

Since we are all familiar with informational data related to events, first we discuss that here.  Type of event – politics, entertainment, technical conference, sports, or personal are just some of the types.  As classification of information and its sources has been a powerful organization principle, that is important here.  An event could be assigned to multiple types.  During old days, usually classification techniques for practical reasons allowed each entity to be assigned to only one class.  With advances in technology, that restriction is being questioned and challenged often.  It is very likely that soon the traditional tree structure used in taxonomy may become a concept of the past.  In the new structure entities and events may be assigned to multiple classes.  This should still be done conservatively, meaning it should be used only when really needed.

For events two other important characteristics are the location and time.  Where event takes place is quite fundamental and should not be treated as an attribute.  Using Turing argument, you could argue that one could do everything by treating location (as well as time) as attributes and that may be true.  But for computational and representational efficiency reasons and for human understanding it is helpful to make location and time not attributes but fundamental “dimensions” used in representing and organizing events.  Physics considers space and time fundamental dimensions and while dealing with real world events, our computing systems will have to consider space and time as important.

Of course both location and time can be represented using wither absolute mechanisms or symbolic methods.  Ultimately each system has to resolve symbolic representations in terms of absolute representations.  It is interesting to see that as location based approaches are becoming popular, people are becoming more aware of latitude and longitude of a place.  A few years no body consider lat and long as important numbers, but I am sure that in the next few years people will be very familiar with lat and longs of major places.  That does not mean that we will abandon symbolic representations.  Names of places will remain the commonly used representation and our systems will reconcile them automatically in location based systems using GPS information as well as references from people.  Precise location of events will be determined using sophisticated mathematical techniques to resolve uncertainties arising from different representational and denotational systems. 

In the last few months, calendars are receiving increasing attention in Internet circles.  It appears that the nature of calendars from their paper days may really change now.  Until recently we just moved our paper calendars to electronic form without really using facilities that have become commonplace due to networked nature of information.  Now there is increased emphasis on adding functionality to calendars, like in Trumba, or using folksonomy for managing events and venues (and of course dates)  and linking those for access to events of interest for “the long tail” as in systems like EVDB.  These and similar systems are implicitly emphasizing importance of events in our life.  We all are interested in different events.  Currently the systems to provide us access to events of interests and managing our life around events of interest are not adequate.  So it is not surprising that systems that help in accessing event information as well as those who will help us in managing our events are of great interest.

I see increasingly closer relationship between Geographic Information Systems and Calendaring and Event systems.  Current systems are still influenced by traditional “computer-centered” thinking which is soon getting replaced by “phone-centered” world.  And in “phone-centered” world one must think about location and time mostly together.  We exist at any time only at a place and that determines our interest and actions. 

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