Would You Trust a Web App to Schedule Appointments for You?

As a follow-up to a previous post about web applications I wish existed, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how people who don’t have administrative support can reduce the burden associated with scheduling meetings. One idea I’ve had for awhile is the idea; of a “black box” web application that could read two people’s calendars (possibly just free/busy information or perhaps free/busy plus location) and suggest the best time and place for them to meet. Today, what I generally see is that one person sends out a list of times to the other person and holds all of those times on his/her calendar. The recipient then looks at those times and chooses one that looks like it would work. Both parties hope that the recipient replies with time preferences before something happens to make the other times no longer workable. It’s really time-consuming and fraught with problems.

What I envision is a simple service where a user could opt to publish his/her calendar (full calendar, free/busy with geographic locations, or just free/busy) and some basic parameters (the workday starts at 8 and ends at 6 – don’t schedule outside this window). Then if two people were both members of the service, they could have the service do the heavy lifting of recommending a few times and places to meet based on calendar availability and preferences. If both parties agreed on a time, the service would then add the event to each of their respective calendars.

You’d never be able to actually “see” another user’s calendar – if you both agreed that you wanted to schedule a meeting, the system would interrogate your respective schedules and recommend a few convenient times. The only real risk would be that some clever person hacked the core service and got access to a user’s full calendar.

Would you use something like this? Would you trust it to help make you more efficient?