The Calendar Project: Not all Days are equal


Not all Days are Equal: investigating the meaning in the digital calendar

Published in CHI’15 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human factors in Computing Systems

The electronic calendar is a common tool used by large numbers of people to reflect and shape their daily activities. It’s function and structure is rooted in legacy representations dating back thousands of years. Collaborating with designers and engineers our project seeks to re-consider what the calendar does for us and how we may perceive and represent our time, personally and collectively.

This project investigates the background to ’the calendar problem’ and documents design led research. Seeking to identify some of the key problems with the current representation and to establish criteria for new interpretations of the meaning of calendar.

lego3d2 Introduction

The proprioceptive nature of the calendar and the cycle of the seasons and years is fundamental to our view of the world. Intertwined with this cyclic view is the lived, phenomenological experience of time, as described by Bergson et al. Underpinned by the socio-economic value propositions of time as discussed by Marx, Smith and Booth. The traditional grid calendar can be seen to enforce industrial and commercial assumptions on both the representation of time and our perception of time. These assumptions, or affirmations, make the ongoing usage of the traditional metaphor inherently calendar-orientated rather than user-orientated.

The introduction of the vCal and the iCalendar format and the interoperability and portability of data these standards enable has increased the reliability, uptake and usage of electronic calendars. Despite the increasing sophistication of the users and usage of digital calendars the layout, functionality and usability appears little changed from traditional paper and print calendars of 18th and 19th C.

The near seamless interoperability of the underlying data between standards and platforms, such as calDAV and iCalendar appears to contrast designs where some extreme skeuomorphic examples even mimic the stitched, leather bound volumes and wrapped page edges of their historical forebears.

Our aim is that our design led research and the design ideas generated contribute to the growing discussion on the representation of time in HCI and interaction design. The project has reached the end of stage one, the investigative making phase and has written papers submitted awaiting publication.




download the paper here