Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives
Really? Why would I want to use this calendar and any of its features? I have notebooks and paper calendars where I write about upcoming events, things of interest, appointments, addresses, phone numbers. I have a calendar on the fridge. There is a calendar of family and friend birthdays hanging inside the bedroom door. Notes of things-to-do are limply buried under pinned photos, newspaper clippings, a broken necklace, forgotten notes from fading lovers, scribbled phone numbers of someone important though without a reason why on a cork board above a makeshift desk. This system of planned chaos worked imperfectly for years adding a colourful and visual artefact in my décor.
Would Google Calendar deliver similar or better features and functionality? At the library, Outlook is the sanctioned and mandatory email / calendar / appointment management program. It works well, is easy to adopt, shares and plays well with others in the library and institution. Outlook has been the contact management, communication, time management product of choice at my last four workplaces where working in teams, coordinating projects, and a high level of time management was demanded.
I am between contracts at present and committed these last couple of months to improving my transliteracy competencies through self-directed learning such as participating in this program. During these past 6 weeks, I have exercised some strategies to use Google Calendar on my BlackBerry and desktop. I carry the device with me more often, set the icons in priority sequence bringing the calendar application to the top, add even the simplest event (walking the dog, getting the taxi, going to yoga, meeting friends at a cafe), into the calendar with my device whenever possible.
Here are some of the features of Google Calendar I found useful, not so useful, or having possible long-term use on both the BlackBerry and the desktop.
1) Gmail to calendar: Wow, this was a revelation! I learned about this rather by accident. An email arrived one day from a festival that I wanted to attend. I started to poke around and found under the “more” tab that I could create an”event” which opened a pop-up window to my Google Calendar scheduling window. Most of the fields were prepopulated with information from the email and I had to change some entries before saving. Voila. When I set up a notification my BlackBerry chimes cheerily to let me know I`m in need of attending to something. Useful.
2) Attach event details: When I first used Google Calendar a few years ago, I would copy and paste details of an appointment or event. Argh. Tedious and annoying. I found a link at the bottom of the calendar scheduling page about Google Labs. It was there that I found various applications to improve the calendar’s efficiency and enhance its use to me. Useful.
3) Facebook has a little feature that allows me to add Facebook events to my Google Calendar when I am using Google Chrome. I’ve not been a fan of Facebook even though I’ve been using it for personal social connections for nearly 7 years. Initially Facebook was a great tool for connecting to my children. However, I am an intensely private person and monitored privacy settings to ensure I had the highest levels possible. Even so I am well aware that inherent in having web presence is having NO privacy. Over the years I have critically assessed the usefulness of Facebook when following associations and organizations. I “friend” CBC Radio’s hosts and shows, some environmental causes, a few artists, and some commercial / retail endeavours. I have just started to add some events from Facebook pages into my Google Calendar. It’s not without some issues (only works so far in Google Chrome and is counterintuitive) but will give it fair use and appraise it more fully in a month or so. Might be useful but right now not so useful.
4) Synchronise Outlook with Google Calendar: Yes, this can be done. It takes many steps but was totally worth it when I wanted to synchronise my work calendar with Google Calendar and is spectacular when I am using my BlackBerry more and more. I can now see my work appointments on my Google Calendar, on any of my laptops, and on my handheld. The view can get congested and be difficult to see details easily but it has been very worthwhile. Useful when my workplace mandates Outlook. Somewhat useful.
5) Google has a few new things for the calendar. I use iGoogle as my desktop on a couple of my laptops and have begun to appreciate the calendar app for that page and for a Google desktop. I have used Wikispaces for the occassional planning and discussion for workshops and can use Google Calendar with that tool; however, each, member of the Wikispace must also have a Google account to add an event to the calendar. Maybe useful in the long-term.
Transliteracy competencies are challenged in all practices when using online calendars, synchronizing tools, parsing, adding applications, going mobile, using a tablet, and integrating calendars into social media and networking application. Any of these applications and tools works well singularly and they have perceived advantages when combined. Taking the time to explore and practice using each, critically assessing usefulness, levels of usability, cross-platform compatibility, and many other aspects can be exhausting and exhilarating.
The greatest benefit I have realised using Google calendar in the last 6 weeks has been the application on my BlackBerry as I have been traveling, responding to future employers’ requests, and making it to festivals, movies, and backyard BBQ’s on time.