Visualizing and Manipulating Complex Calendar Scheduling Information

Andrew Faulring, Carnegie Mellon University
Brad Myers, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract or Description

Calendar scheduling is a difficult task for people who have overbooked calendars and many constraints. We are collaborating with artificial intelligence researchers, who are developing an intelligent calendar scheduling agent that gathers availability constraints, searches for times that satisfy the constraints, and negotiates with invitees when no satisfactory time is found for the constraints. The agent will never be able to act with complete autonomy because, just like a good human assistant, it will need to consult its supervisor when a task is under-specified, has ambiguous instructions, deviates from the normal, or when the task has changed. Furthermore, users need an interface to tell the agent all of their constraints, to see the agent’s proposed solutions, and to respond to the agent’s questions. Currently, calendar applications do not allow users to specify scheduling constraints such as how preferable a free time is for scheduling a new meeting or to what extent an existing meeting can be rescheduled. These requirements inspired the “availability bar,” an interaction and visualization technique for complex, multi-dimensional calendar scheduling constraints. Availability bars were specifically designed to be embedded in calendar applications. Additionally, availability bars will help people who schedule their calendar by hand.