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Response to [… issues for groupware calendar systems] by Palen


This paper raises the topic of Groupware Calendar Systems (GCSs) and discusses it from three perspectives: personal-technological, personal-social and social-technological. The example is SUN’s long-deployed  ‘Calendar Manager’ system in which everyone’s calendar is visible by default – allowing a large extent of information sharing. This paper is interested in the social, individual and technological issues that arise from designing and using GCSs. These issues can be borrowed when thinking about other groupware systems and also lead to some design implications.


  • About SUN’s ‘Calendar Manger’: “the contents of each user’s calendar are readable by default by everyone on the internal network. Although employees can customize and change their access settings, over 80% of the users maintain the defaults”;
  • What are the special characteristics of calendar systems that impact interpersonal communication? 1) information disclosure; 2) mechanics of meeting scheduling and 3) more additional coordination challenges and opportunities.
  • Understanding calendar: “Clocks and calendrical systems make time tangible and meaningful by imposing both natural and artificial boundaries on it… It is time-as-artifact that, in part, makes calendars useful”.
  • “Open calendar systems also create the opportunity to use calendars to coordinate with colleagues by allowing them to make inferences about the quality of the tine allocation.”
  • Meeting Arranging: “88% of survey respondents reported using others’ calendars for the purposes of meeting arranging… 70% of respondents also report reading calendars to locate a colleague.”
  • “SUN employees will choose to view calendars so that the content details can be read, instead of viewing only the free/busy times.”
  • Information access (between colleagues): 1) locating someone & assessing availability; 2) meeting verification; 3) information retrieval; 4) organizational learning; 5) synchronization.
  • “Despite being ‘world’ readable, Sun’s on-line calendars are used for mostly group-wise interactions.”
  • “‘Calendaring’ is a kind of non-digital technology that depends on the artifactual representation of time for its function.”


If there should be a precedent approach then SUN’s ‘Calendar Manager’ must be mentioned.

If there should be a paragraph about privacy in non-personal calendar systems, P20 – Interpersonal Boundary Management is a good source of information.

If there should be how individual calendar can be extended or how organizational calendar should be like the five types of information access (in KEY POINTS) should be relevant.

If there should be some understanding of calendar per se the P20 – Artifacts of Temporarily offers great statements.


About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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