Daylight saving time just switched over in Canada and the US, which always elicits collective shock that our system of telling time is arbitrary and kind of unhelpful. It made me think about other ways of measuring time that might be better.
One option is to use a simple decimal time system with a universal meridian. I’m fond of Swatch Internet Time, because it’s simple and based in the cyberutopian marketing mess of the late 1990s.
Another option is to use hyperlocal astronomical information on a local clock. When is sunrise, solar noon, sunset and solar midnight, where you are right now? What phase is the moon in? How many days since the last equinox or solstice?
A hyperlocal clock or calendar might also include natural phenomena. Here in Montreal, for example, the time when the maple sap starts to run is an important local event, which makes all the papers and the TV news. Really! Or when the amaryllis blooms in Northern California. Or maybe the frequency of buses and trains, which surge at commute times and go to nearly zero after midnight.
I think there might be an interesting next step of refinement – a personal clock that measures time according to your personal daily rhythm. It could measure things like
- What time you “naturally” wake up
- What time you fall asleep
- What times you eat
- What times you go to the bathroom
- What days you menstruate and ovulate
- What time is best for you to focus
- What time is best for you to exercise
- What time is best for sex
Knowing your own body’s regular rhythms, and your mind’s, would help you know when you are scheduling in conflict with those rhythms.
Can you realistically work 11 hours straight tomorrow? Should you plan on an 8pm dinner with a client? When can you find time to work on your latest painting?
It’d also be interesting to compare your personal clock with those of other people you live and work with. If someone on your team is on a four-meal cycle, maybe inviting them for lunch at noon doesn’t make sense, and you should instead take a walk mid-afternoon when you both need exercise.
It’d be tough to get the numbers right, though. When is the “natural” time for you to eat your first meal? The haphazard times you do it now? The time you pick on weekends or vacation, when you don’t have other time constraints? The time that you eat the most, or the time that you eat the least? Or the time that your circadian rhythm spoots out the most hunger hormones into your bloodstream?
Regardless, it feels like a personal clock indexed to your own physical and psychological needs and abilities would be a great way to look at time.
So that makes 3 clocks:
- Decimal and universal
- Local and astronomical
I think the first two might be easy to program, and the last one will be hardest. I’m interested to see if this is a project I want to put time into.
One thought on “A personal clock”
Space shuttle, this is Houston Command Center. Please set your retrorockets to fire exactly five point six seconds after Evan begins his lunch.