Will 2006 be the year you start to click, rather than flip, the calendar? Here's why the question comes up. A new set of Web technologies...

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Will 2006 be the year you start to click, rather than flip, the calendar?

Here’s why the question comes up. A new set of Web technologies and always-on access to the Internet are leading a host of service providers to re-examine the power of online calendaring. The goal is instant access to your schedule via the Web. Not only by yourself but also by parties you designate, whether it’s a spouse, parent or offspring, boss, co-worker, dentist or whoever.

The battle will be over who gets the privilege of providing you this service. Your ISP? Phone provider? Newspaper Web site? Google?

Or a combination of them all, as Seattle-based Trumba is offering.

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The calendaring startup is announcing today a deal with Knight Ridder Digital aimed at offering local citizens a way of posting events on newspaper Web sites. And in adding Yahoo! compatibility to its mix, Trumba has come up with a “Rosetta stone” technology to enable cross-posting of events among several calendaring systems

Trumba’s compatibility with Microsoft Exchange, Apple’s iCal and other systems gives it an advantage over other Web scheduling. What really makes Trumba fun is its understanding and incorporation of the social and communications aspects of calendar sharing.

“The real power of the application comes with its use as a communications vehicle around events,” said Chip Kimball, assistant superintendent at Lake Washington School District, which is using Trumba in a pilot program.

Several things are going on here. First, by “broadcasting” your schedule and letting others add to or change it, you save a lot of back-and-forth calling or e-mailing.

Next, in a Web-driven world, events become automatically uploadable to your schedule. The 2006 Mariners season. Which days you recycle yard waste instead of household items. Payment-due dates on credit cards.

Then there’s the networking aspect. Trumba is a real godsend if you coordinate meetings or events for a club, association, school or other group. Managing a group calendar is a whole lot easier if everyone hosting or sponsoring an event can have access to it.

The real power of Web calendaring is best understood by trying it out, which you can do for two months free with Trumba (otherwise it’s $39 a year).

As with many emerging services in the era of what is being dubbed Web 2.0, there’s a “critical mass” factor with calendaring. A certain number of people have to climb on board for the process to be effective.

But one thing seems obvious: Whether it’s 2006 or beyond, whether it’s Trumba or someone else, the events that guide our lives will live online. We can all plan accordingly.

Seattle freelance writer Paul Andrews has written about technology for more than two decades. He can be reached at pandrews@seattletimes.com.