Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calendar as Subversive Tool? Sure...

So the City of Lowell recently rolled out an integrated, interactive calendar:  Its purpose is to integrate the various calendars which co-existed previously into ONE single, "go-to" site where anyone can learn about what's going on in the city.  Other than one major design flaw (it only lets you peek a week into the future), it's an awesome resource.

The reasons why it's great are mostly obvious -- transparency, visibility, inclusivity, etc.  Another reason that I like it is that it takes power away from self-important types who like to complain about "not being told" about events that take place.

Now, this isn't a Lowell thing, or a local politics thing, or anything specific to any certain place or environment.  Based on the way I spent my 20s, one thing I can very confidently say is that I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of things...and complaints about people not communicating well are universal.  Ironically, they often come from people who are themselves poor communicators -- 9 times out of 10, someone who complains about someone else "not communicating" has not made the effort himself or herself to reach out and find out about whatever it is they feel slighted over (the only time the complaint is valid is if someone made multiple attempts to reach another person and they were ignored...but simply not hearing from someone does not give you the right to call them a poor communicator).

But anyway, back to why I love this takes power away from the hyper-local and hyper self-important who are quick to throw others under the bus about the way they communicate.  All the information is laid out in plain sight, for ALL to see.  When a principal misses an event, or gets confused about the time or date, the old "throwaway" lines they might use to cast blame stop working.

People who think that Sierra Leone is the District Attorney's sister, that the "Deep South" is the Billerica town line, or that heart donors deserve 30 days of paid leave have now lost one of the quivers in their arsenal.

Sometimes, where you stand depends on where you sit.  From my perch up in Room 50, that's how I see it, and yes, that's an unabashedly good thing -- the information-afflicted are now comfortable (they can see all the city's events, laid bare), and the self-important comfortable and now afflicted (they can't feign ignorance or the cite the incompetence of others when they're caught off-guard about why they missed something).  

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