Introducing ShareEdmonton

Today I’m excited to launch ShareEdmonton, a local aggregation platform for Edmonton and area. With it, I want to redefine local media and improve Edmonton by embracing the fact that communication is increasingly taking place online.

You can think of ShareEdmonton as an events calendar, at least right now. It certainly has that functionality, and I want it to become the de facto events calendar for Edmonton. I’ve taken the opposite approach of most online calendaring sites, such as Upcoming or Eventful. Instead of starting at the global level and working down, I’ve started at the local level. This is a simple, but important distinction.

I believe that place is more important than ever. That’s why place is at the heart of ShareEdmonton. Unlike other sites, each place exists once and only once in ShareEdmonton. If you want to find out what’s going on at the Shaw Conference Centre, you can be confident there’s only one in the system. In addition to individual places, ShareEdmonton currently supports neighbourhoods, such as Downtown. This is a powerful way to roll up data about a collection of places.

What kind of data? Events, obviously, but also tweets. For any event, place, or neighbourhood you can see recent related tweets written by people in the Edmonton area, in real-time. Or you can see all tweets written by local users. Over time, I’ll be adding other kinds of data alongside tweets, including blog posts, photos, and more.

ShareEdmonton is all about aggregating the immense amounts of data available online and helping you find the bits that are important, relevant or interesting to you, through place, topic, or some other filter. Here’s an example – George W. Bush is in town tonight, at the Shaw Conference Centre. Here’s the event page on ShareEdmonton (and here’s the page for the rally against him). On it, you find information about the event, the location, and recent related tweets – people talking about the event. Two more examples, using topic as a filter: weather and traffic. That’s pretty powerful, I think, and has the potential to become even more powerful over time.

What’s available today is just a small part of what I hope the site will become. Today is step one, and there’s a long way to go until the vision is realized. I have grand ambitions for ShareEdmonton!

Here are a few other quick points:

  • Though I’m not calling this a beta, it is a work-in-progress.
  • The entire site features clean, hackable URLs.
  • The site also features Microformats. If you’re running Firefox, install Operator and you’ll see your browser “light up” with events, locations, tagspaces, and more.
  • All tweets pages have RSS feeds, and most event listing pages have both RSS and iCal feeds.
  • ShareEdmonton is not, and will not be, open source. I am and will be embracing the concepts of open data, however, so stay tuned for more on that.
  • The engine is generic, so you could in theory turn on ShareCalgary or an aggregator for another city.
  • As I was quoted on Saturday – I’m really not concerned with the business model at the moment. I want to build something that is valuable first.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has provided feedback, done testing, and otherwise helped me out with this, especially Chris, Cam, Reg, Eric, Rob, Dickson, Jas, and Adam. Also, though she probably would rather me not say it, Sharon played a big behind-the-scenes role in this – thanks!

Please check out ShareEdmonton, and let me know what you think. Tweet it, blog it, leave a comment below, email me, or post something on the Uservoice forum I’ve setup. You can also follow ShareEdmonton on Twitter, which is where I’ll announce new features. Thanks!