The New Eventification

After months of work, the new Eventification is now live! It’s packed with all kinds of new functionality and quite a few design/usability enhancements. When you get a chance, go check it out!

Let’s take a look at some of biggest changes in the new version of the site.

Anywhere!

Just about every aspect of the site now uses an internal API that supports geolocation. The original Eventification did all computation across every event in the system, which caused the site to be limited to only one city, Phoenix, AZ.

While the new system will theoretically work in any city, the current focus will be in Phoenix and New York. This is because it still requires a lot of time and effort to input events.

What’s Interesting?

As hinted at a while ago, there is an all-new interest algorithm in place. The old system merely matched up tags you explicitly liked with events containing those tags. If there was a tag match, you would see the event. Otherwise, you wouldn’t. The new algorithm takes into consideration that we like (or love) topics to different extents. This is represented using a dislike<-neutral->like->love scale.

Learning From You

The new Eventification will do everything it can to make sure you get an optimal experience. Instead of requiring you to set up everything perfectly, Eventification will automatically nudge the interest sliders based on pages you have viewed and events you have RSVP’d (yes, maybe, or no) to. Unlike most applications that learn from your behavior, Eventification shows you your topic ratings and allows you to override the system’s assumptions.

The philosophy behind this type of functionality is simple. Not everyone will want to put a lot of time or effort into curating their interests on Eventification. Therefore, Eventification needs to be able to set itself up as quickly as possible, and make changes based on behavior instead of relying on explicit user input.

What’s Like What You Like?

One nifty feature tucked away within all this machine learning and interestingness slider mumbo-jumbo is the concept of interestingness propagating between topics and events. I won’t bore you with talk about neural networks, but let’s just say if you like one topic, Eventification will find related topics and show you more of those (and similarly with dislikes). The interestingness of one event will also cascade to the interestingness of other events. An event’s interestingness can even swim upstream, much like a trout, and nudge the interestingness of the topics relating to it.

tl;dr: awesome.

Sharing Is Caring

Your activity on events (i.e. positive RSVPs, tweeting via Tweet button, commenting) is shown to your friends, which helps events spread among friends, in case the algorithm didn’t surface them already. Some event sites stick to categories, while others focus on your social graph. Eventification is designed to get the best of both worlds!

If you link your Twitter account, you can (optionally) automatically follow all of your Twitter friends on Eventification! With the click of one Tweet button on an event page, you can share the word about events on Twitter AND on Eventification. How sweet is that?

Organizer Tools

While some great new tools have been added for organizers, there’s still a long way to go. The latest version tries to make it as easy as possible for events to find their way into Eventification, even if the organizer isn’t actively participating on Eventification.

Ultimately, the goal is for Eventification to be the starting point for event organizers, but there’s still a way to go on this front.

It’s Only a Milestone

While the new Eventification is way above and beyond the Eventification of yesteryear, these changes are only the beginning. Please pardon the dust as the site will remain under constant development over the next few months.

Have fun, go to some events, and don’t hesitate to share your feedback!

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Do you like it? Or LOVE it?

Currently, Eventification relies on a very primitive interest system. Users can subscribe to or block tags. If an event has a tag you subscribe to and none that you’ve blocked, the system deems you as “interested” in the event.

Eventification v2 is quite a bit smarter. Users will be able to say how much they like or dislike a topic. Then, the system weighs these options—along with others—to figure out whether or not you’ll be interested in an event.

But still, there’s a problem with giving users fine-tuned controls. What if they don’t go through the effort to set them up, or don’t set them up properly? To a certain extent, the system should be able to learn from your behavior and move these dials automagically. Just like Google, Facebook, and other web services, Eventification v2 will try to figure out what users like based on their actions. However, for Eventification’s advanced users, the dials are exposed to the user to be overridden.

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WordPress Plugin

Want a sneak preview at a new, awesome feature? (“Sneak preview” = “early alpha”)

A while back, Curtis Miller released some handy Javascript widget code for embedding events on any site. It’s an excellent example of the power of the Eventification API.

For event organizers and venues that host events, there is now a WordPress plugin that uses the Eventification API, turning any WordPress-powered site into an event site! The plugin automatically creates pages for upcoming events, giving organizers and venues a landing page for events within their own sites, while harnessing all the traffic and SEO. Attendees see the site’s normal template and navigation, helping them find useful information about the event, organization, or venue.

Why invest time and effort into creating a tool that keeps visitors on organizers’ sites instead of directing them all to Eventification.com? They may or may not include links to Eventification on their event pages, but even if they don’t, making event organizers lives easier can help Eventification tremendously.

Icing. On a cake.

Icing. On a cake.

At the end of the day, if organizers use Eventification as their starting point for promoting their events online, Eventification will become a better resource for people looking for local events. Any traffic organizers send back to Eventification is merely icing on the cake.

Check out the Eventification WordPress Plugin on GitHub, and make sure to check back occasionally for updates!

P.S. Here’s a screenshot of the admin page. If you want to see it running in the wild, check out Brian’s list of upcoming tech events in and around Phoenix!

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Organizers, Organizers, Organizers!

Eventification is an ecosystem. For it to thrive, it needs organizers and it needs prospective attendees. Without attendees, organizers won’t spend time posting their events on Eventification. Without organizers posting events, attendees will stop coming to Eventification in search of new events. Growing the service is a chicken and the egg problem.

Steve Ballmer

Right now, a key focus for Eventification is organizers. Organizers, organizers, organizers! At the top of the list of priorities are organizer-centric improvements. It needs to be as easy as possible to add events to Eventification, especially for recurring events.

We won’t stop there. Why not make it as easy as possible for organizers to publish their events everywhere? Unlike other event sites, Eventification is not a walled garden. Eventification is about inclusiveness, not exclusivity.

Stay tuned as we roll out some great features for event organizers!

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Group Pages

A common request from event organizers has been to create a single landing page for recurring events. Eventification was built around the concept of recurring Events belonging to Groups. Users can change their email settings for each Event or for all instances of the Group’s Events. You can also auto-RSVP to Events if they are a part of a particular Group.

To give this concept of a Group more substance, there is now a page set up for each Group! Example: http://eventification.com/TechLunchSouth (and a short URL: http://evnt.us/gl)

The Group page features upcoming (and past) events and iCal/RSS feeds. The feeds make it easy for anyone to subscribe to all future Events from a Group without having to sign up for Eventification.

But who wouldn’t want to sign up? Having an account and getting personalized feeds & notifications based on your interests is awesome!

If you are an event organizer involved in one of these groups, go to the Group page and see if you already have an “[edit]” link next to the title. If not, contact Brian Shaler and he’ll get you set up!

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API

Announcing the Eventification API!

Event data on Eventification is free and open for anyone to consume — currently without any restrictions or obligations. As a community resource, we hope others will utilize these capabilities and encourage others to promote their events using Eventification.

Honestly, the API is in the same state it was in December. I wanted to get a little further on it before announcing it, but I’ve finally decided to publish what’s ready. The documentation page strikes out the endpoints that are not ready and outlines all the features that are ready.

You can get all upcoming events based on tag, search, and/or location fairly easily, and have Eventification return an RSS feed, a JSON object, an XML tree, or an ICS/VCalendar subscription URL!

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User Submission System

This week, a major new feature was soft-launched. For Eventification to be a true community resource, it needs to be community-powered.

When an event organizer creates an event on Eventification, there’s a vested interest in getting people to see it. That feeling isn’t there if the event is created on their behalf. In return for having someone create and promote an event page on Eventification, the web site should pay them back by empowering them to reach more people as easily as possible. With that goal in mind, Eventification will be getting more powerful social features, allowing members (organizers AND attendees) to share events with people on Eventification as well as push them out to other web services.

Because Eventification is a notification system in addition to a calendar, it’s important to have a level of quality control in place before events are emailed out to members. The system will surely change as the community and site grow, but for now, we have a team of moderators helping to make sure you get notified about the most relevant and useful information.

There are plenty of ideas, but feel free to submit your own ideas for Eventification at eventification.uservoice.com!

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Eventification Bloggy Blog!

Announcing the Eventification Blog!

With a rapidly evolving application, it’s important to have a place to publish new features and updates. There is a great community supporting Eventification, and information has been getting around pretty effectively via Twitter, Facebook, and that newfangled social network “IRL”.

These organic methods of distributing information are great, but as a network grows, those methods start becoming spotty.

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