Upcoming.org

Andy just launched his new collaborative event site upcoming.org. I’ve been playing around with it for the last 15 minutes or so and I’m amazed at the possibilities there. The site is pretty sparse, even if you have an account, but I can see the potential and I’m really excited about it. Andy’s written one of the first second-generation social software apps I’ve seen.

What do I mean by second generation? Well, I’ve been known to bash the hype around social software (even though I’ve arguably been running a social software application for the past four years), but it was only because I was waiting for the substance that lived up to the hype. Yeah, Friendster is pretty cool now that it has 2 million users, but what does it actually do aside from help my single friends get “hooked up”? I haven’t found it any more revolutionary than a massive public vanity mirror so far.

Upcoming ties together a few of the strings that the past couple years of software tinkering has made for us. It’s got parts of Craigslist, MetaFilter, Friendster, and weblogs rolled into it. You create an account and post events you’re going to, and friends and others in your metro area can find out about them via the site or RSS. Every event is like a blog post that allows comments from others. While I didn’t figure out why anyone would syndicate their own events list (the only updates to it will the ones you add so the notification possibilities of RSS ae kind of lost) until I realized that with a package like mt-rss, I could keep an updated list of upcoming events using it. Right now I update by hand my upcoming event in the lower right hand side of this site, but it’s often out of date because I’m lazy — not so once I get mt-rss and my upcoming.org feed to automate it. Andy’s told me that more RSS feeds, FOAF, iCal support, and Trackback implementations are on the way.

Just like how Movable Type built upon the first generation work of earlier blogging engines, I think upcoming is the first of a new breed of social software apps that fills a need, and samples the best ideas from a previous generation of applications. I think it’s baby steps in the right direction and I can’t wait to see what applications look like in 2-3 years when a site like upcoming.org is more the norm.