Living by the clock, by the light
Hit and Miss #280
Hello! Good afternoon—or, well, it feels like afternoon here, as the sun stretches closer to the horizon and the shadows lengthen.
There are two modes we can go by. (There are always more, but let’s pretend there are just two. “Assume a can opener”, and so on.)
- We can wake up with an alarm, to a schedule of hours and minutes and recorded time. In this mode, I aim to wake up by around 7 at the latest, though without a reason to get out of bed struggle to do so.
- Or we can wake up with our body’s intuition, usually informed by light and hunger and so on. When on vacation, particularly longer ones, this tends to be more my speed.
The first mode might make you feel like you’re “behind” when you sleep in, that you lost time—you’ve overshot the schedule, time has slipped away, and now there’s simply less of it (because you can’t intrude on the sleep necessary to wake up at your planned hour tomorrow, of course). In the second, you might give in to rhythm and flow a bit more—throughout a day where you follow that intuition, you might lose track of time entirely. Maybe it’s intentional, even, maybe you hide your instruments of recorded time (clocks, watches, digital devices), making it easier to lose track (losing track of time is not losing time—often, it’s quite the opposite).
I’ve had various experiments at leaning into the second mode, of adjusting patterns and rhythms to the seasons (and, in particular, the light of the sun). For a while I tried to avoid having lights in my home office, to stop working once it became too dark to see—that becomes pretty difficult around the solstice, as calendar bookings continue into the early evening darkness.
It’s hard to carry on in the second mode, when so many structures around us assume the first. Capitalist structures divvy the hours, allocating some (too many) to labour, forcing us to account for the time spent (note the language! it’s our time spent, in exchange for money—“Money is circulated. Time is spent.”), leaving the remainder to stuff full of keeping ourselves capable of labour (sleeping, eating, washing, and so on), and maybe some space to actually rest, in whatever form that takes.
Some links on time, then:
- “Out of time”, by Mandy Brown – includes an opening anecdote, linking to and building on observations by Jen Lowe, on time and wresting control of our attention from the digital world
- “10 Timeframes”, by Paul Ford – we spend not just our time, but that of others
- “The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time”, by Nate Hopper – profiling David Mills, the creator of the foundational Network Time Protocol, an excellent illustration that recorded time is constructed, that it’s a consensus, now often mediated through technology. Some other links on the technology of time:
- Scrapping the leap second (if you didn’t know—I didn’t—there’s a leap second bulletin)
- Year 2038 problem (an integer problem resurfaced recently by Julia Evans describing common floating point problems)
- Different concepts of time used in English law over the centuries (ha, you thought these’d all be high-tech tech, didn’t you!)
- “Evening edition”, by Liz Danzico – describing a site feature changing the design at 6pm, to intentionally mark the transition from day to evening (see also, via Liz Danzico, a brief reflection on analog watches by David McCullough)
All the best for the week (there’s recorded time, again!) ahead!