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And *that* is why I'm building Querki
Really, today's XKCD summarizes my elevator pitch remarkably well:

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Well, among other things it's why Querki is going to have universal version control built in fairly soon. (Really, as soon as possible, but we need to get up and running in the cluster first before I can start that project.)

But seriously: Querki's elevator pitch is coming to focus on the fact that small communities have basically no proper tools to manage their information, and the result is that they wind up doing *insane* things with spreadsheets because it's the only hammer they have. So I'm building a tool that has most of those building blocks built in instead.

(And I'm fascinated by the choice of example, since it's been on my mind so much. I'm beginning to think that scheduling may be one of Querki's killer apps, and I'm chewing on what features are necessary in order to do that well...)

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Having thought about it for a while, I'm almost convinced scheduling is AI-Hard. At least, automatic scheduling.

Oh, totally agreed, but that's not my goal -- rather, I'm spending some serious thought on how to *help* people deal with this sort of constraint-solving problem. Not solve it automatically, just make it easier to play with the options and tradeoffs. It's a fascinating problem; I'd love to chat about it with you sometime.

Interesting point on the spatialization. I keep tossing around the idea of a "spreadsheet view" in Querki, and have almost implemented it several times. On the one hand, it's too limited to represent the more complex possibilities, and sucks if the data gets at all wide; OTOH, it's a visual metaphor folks are used to, and which works well for simpler problems, which are likely to be the most common case. Ponder, ponder...

But would people want completely automatic scheduling? If you allow for that you then you also need to block out for yourself every single time that you're not available for things to be scheduled even if you don't actually have *plans*-- on a level of "sleeping here" and "home for a few hours here" and "I need this time to be *free* even though it's technically not because I should probably leave the house at X". To say nothing of whether you even want to take the engagements people are trying to put on your schedule in the first place. Even if the AI *could* handle it, why would anyone *want* it to?

I don't know -- it would actually be interesting to see how well that worked. I'm sure that Google will eventually try it, given their general "we know better than you" approach to things. I agree that I would probably hate it personally, but it wouldn't surprise me if some people would like it.

But as mentioned elsethread, what I'm more interested in is *helping* people schedule -- Doodle on steroids, basically. I think there would be a lot of value in an assistant that helps you explore the options and tradeoffs. Not quite sure what that looks like yet, but I've had this problem in the back of my head for the past year, and I'm at least starting to understand what it wants to be able to do...

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