It's about time

Time is all we have. Most of us can feel time speeding up. Many of us are enslaved by time. But most of what we consider "time" is actually in our heads.


Recent entries in Internet Time Blog's time category

What is "Internet Time?"

Internet time is shorthand for the accelerated pace of business and life brought about by networks and eBusiness. The amazing growth of Netscape is frequently cited as an example -- in its first year, the firm accomplished what had taken others a decade or more.

Some say a year of Internet time equals seven years of calendar time, but there's really no absolute measure. It's a concept, like a "New York minute."

"What part of now is it you don't understand?"
--Zydeco group Frog Kick

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast

Official U.S. Pacific Time

Industrious Monocraft Clock

TimeTicker gives you times around the world with sound effects and one-button correction of your computer's clock. Very cool.

Human Clock

Time around the world - 30 clocks

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa

Swatch, the maker of curious looking watches, has brilliantly highjacked the term Internet Time, confusing millions of people into thinking that Internet time is "Swatch time." Swatch divides the day into 1000 beats and sets the prme meridian at Biel, Switzerland. While it's great not to hassle with time zones, you'd probably have to buy a Swatch to figure out what time it really is.

Timely topics

> Timelines, for perspective
> Ideas from 50 books about time
> Essays on time from Forbes ASAP
> Clocks and Calendars
> How the average American spends time
> Observations
> Time is relative

On Time at the Museum of American History

"What then, is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know it not. "
--St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II, Sec. 14.


Encyclopædia Britannica:

a measured or measurable period, a continuum that lacks spatial dimensions. Time is of philosophical interest and is also the subject of mathematical and scientific investigation.

time perception
experience or awareness of the passage of time.

The human experience of change is complex. One primary element clearly is that of a succession of events, but distinguishable events are separated by more or less lengthy intervals that are called durations. Thus, sequence and duration are fundamental aspects of what is perceived in change.



Timelines provide perspective. Check these out.

Powers of Ten: from 1 attosecond to 31 billion years

Timeline of Knowledge Representation

Time Capsule a la New York Times

Ideas from 50 books and articles about time

Deep inside, I know people can lead more productive, happy lives if they overthrow the tyranny of clocktime. I've dumped my digital watch. Now I carry my Swiss railway conductor's pocket watch on days that I carry any timepiece at all.

Why Time Matters in Business

Breakaway, by Charles Fred, is a marvellous book about the impact of reducing "time to proficiency" in business. Excerpts.

"Put your skepticism on hold and ask yourself if you and the people of your company can reach proficiency at the speed of the new economy. Can your current system for developing people fulfill the growth requirements of your shareholders, satisfy anxious customers, and excite your workers enough to keep them?"

is a French Medieval alchemy symbol for time.

Time concepts presentation (1999)


How the average American spends time

sleep 33 %
work 27.0
leisure 13.0
religion 1.4
eating 8.6
travel 10.0
illness 4.3
personal care 2.5


" I decided to have plenty of time."

Unwinding the Clock “I circle around the arguments, coming back to them again and again, from slightly different angles, touching on them in slightly different places. I do this partly because it’s often the best way to learn—not through single events, and not through strict repetition either, but though variation. And partly because it’s impossible to resolve your relationship with time once and for all.”

If I can fool myself into thinking that I don’t have enough time, couldn’t I just as well fool myself into thinking that I have plenty of time? So I decided to have plenty of time.

In education it’s particularly important to look forward. it’s strange that we so often concentrate on previous knowledge. knowledge that precedes us is, of course, important, but it deals only with things as they once were. it’s just as important to consider things that point forward: expectations, hopes, objectives.

Faster, faster...

Time is speeding up. In agrarian days, time didn't matter so long as you got up around sunrise and turned in at sunset.

Railroads must keep to schedules -- and require people to agree on the time. (Before railroads, time zones were unnecessary--and often arbitrary.) Military coordination and air travel require even greater precision.

These days, two minutes to receive a message from the other side of the world feels agonizingly slow.

When I studied physics in college, we didn't talk about nanoseconds.

Forbes ASAP, November 11, 1998, The Big Issue III

Bob Metcalfe, Ray Kurzweil, Denny Hillis, James Burke, Arthur Clarke, Chuck Yeager, Esther Dyson, Peggy Noonan, Micahel Lewis, Jacob Needleman, William F. Buckley, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Douglas Coupland, William Gibson, Tom Peters, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Dell, Michael Rothschild, Daniel Schorr, Camille Paglia, Tom Wolfe, and others write about time. Incredible!!!

Are You on Digital Time? Fast Company's Alan Webber talks with BCG's George Stalk about time-based competition. February 99.
Prisoners Of Time
Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning April 1994
If experience, research, and common sense teach nothing else, they confirm the truism that people learn at different rates, and in different ways with different subjects. But ,,,our schools and the people involved with them are captives of clock and calendar. The boundaries of student growth are defined by schedules for bells, buses, and vacations instead of standards for students and learning.
Po Bronson describes Danny Hillis & the 10,000-year clock

The legendary designer of computer architecture, Danny Hillis ... is building a monument-sized mechanical clock that ... will continue ticking and counting time through the year AD 12,000. In essence, he wants us to stop thinking about what's for lunch and start thinking about how to feed the world.

"In some sense, we've run out of our story, which we were operating on, which was the story of power taking over nature - it's not that we've finished that, but we've gotten ahead of ourselves, and we don't know what the next story is after that."

According to Hillis, certain problems aren't solvable in three years, and it's people's nature not to work on problems they can't solve. If we can extend people's horizons, a whole range of challenges fall back into play.

Hyper History Online
An extraordinary timeline: 3,000 years of history in 2,000 linked files.


"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches does not."

"The clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men. The clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the industrial age... In its relationship to determinable quantities of engergy, to standardization, to automatic action, and finally to its own special product, accurate timing, the clock has been the foremost machine in modern technic; and at each period it has remained in the lead: it marks a perfection toward which other machines aspire."

Lewis Mumford

CLOX CLOX is a free program that displays the time in as many timezones as you like on an array of clocks reminiscent of the wall of a newsroom. Digital or analog. Pop up a daylight world map. Set alarms and reminders. Have it automatically update the time via the Net every day.
The Royal Observatory at Greenwich Ground zero, celebrating the new millennium with exhibits. Also see Greenwich Electronic Time. Introduced with great Y2K fanfare as the new standard for e-commerce, the "What's New" tab contains nothing but the original press release. Interesting links.
One World Time One World Time is what Greenwich Electronic Time should have been, a time standard for e-commerce. Easy to use.
Official U.S. time Also links to a history of calendars, an interesting (really!) history of Daylight Savings Time, Brittanica's Clockworks (neat animations), and more. Time Service Department, U.S. Naval Observatory.
The World Clock Time in cities around the world.
World Time Zone Time in countries around the world.
Swatch People who think Switzerland is the center of the world
Time Sync Great variety of time synchronization software
Internet Clocks, Counters, & Countdowns Lots of software goodies
Clocks and Time Horology site for books, magazines, organizations, museums


Caution! Dates in calendar are closer than they appear!

calendar god

History of the calendar

When Do You Want To Go Today?,
an awesome list of calendars -- celestial, historical, religious

Calendar Home for links, 10,000 year calendar, no. days between two dates

This Day in History

Geologic Time

Perpetual Headline News
Election in Doubt
Congress Defies Prez
Flood Waters Rising
Moore's Law Upheld
Politicians Found Corrupt
Conflict in Middle East
Industries Consolidate
Markets Fluctuate
Perception is Reality
Shit Happens
Taxes Rise
Time Flies
Entropy Increases
"No Free Lunch," Study Finds
"What's in it for me?" ask consumers


Continually shift your vision

The rapidly accelerating future and growing irrelevance of the past have thrown our sense of timing out of kilter. We need to look at the world through time trifocals. Each perspective has built-in plusses and minuses.


This Quarter

Next Year

+ Responsive

+ Goal-oriented

+ Visionary

- Short-sighted

- Shallow

- Far out

- Constrained

- Incrementalism

- Impractical


Getting It Done by Roger Fischer and Alan Sharp

"By formulating a statement of purpose in terms of proposed results over three or more points in time you can have: an inspiring distant vision, a mid-distant goal en route that is a worthy goal in itself, and some immediate objectives to start working on at once."


"The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time."

Tom Cargill, Bell Labs

"It's like trying to understand time other than linearly... So maybe we will just give up on leap years and all the seasons will shift slightly and the definition of a year will change and then we will all understand time as a series of concentric circles... or some other nifty metaphor that I can't predict from here in Flatland."



"So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time." --Steven Wright

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains." --Henry David Thoreau

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who often call themselves evangelists, speak with quasireligious fervor of "Internet time" – the apocalyptic sense of urgency caused by the fleeting half-lives of products and business plans.

Tim Race, Industry Standard, August 20, 1999

Save (and Savor) Time

Our advice on Making Time and enjoying it more.

Timing Is Everything
Time is all we have

I am retiring this from the Internet Time Group page in mid-2001 while buckling down to provide eLearning consulting.

Time is relative

How much is that in Dog Years? It's a myth that each year of a dog's life is the equivalent of seven human years. Here's the real equivalency for an average-sized dog:

Human Years Dog Years
1 15
2 24
4 32
6 40
10 56
14 72
18 91
21 106

Einstein's Dreams 1905-1999 -
The interactive adaptation

Einstein's Web

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."

Albert Einstein

"Happiness may well consist primarily of an attitude toward time. Individuals we consider happy commonly seem complete in the present: we see them constantly in their wholeness, attentive, cheerful, open rather than closed to events, integral in the moment rather than distended across time by regret or anxiety." --Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Current organization models are not time-based. They still operate in a three-dimensional universe of being rather than becoming. Notions of a real-time business and of an organizational life cycle are not widely held or used. --Stan Davis, 2020 Vision

from the first (October 1999) issue of CapGemini Focus... Yes, yes, yes. Somebody else gets it.

Thinking out of the time box
by Jayne Buxton and Crystal Schaffer

"Breaking time paradigms The way to approach the task of re-timing work is to think about it differently."

"First, consider that there are no jobs but, rather, that there is work to be accomplished. This requires a business to break down its jobs, analyze them, and reconstruct them as collections of work that need to be done as opposed to positions that need to be filled. As processes are pulled apart and put back together in different ways, re-thinking how we use time becomes easier. Some of the things once regarded as essential to effectiveness are seen for what they are: bad habits which developed to support a particular inefficient process. For example, the assumption that a manager needs to be on call five days a week, eight hours a day, disappears when work is restructured to enable employees to make more effective decisions themselves, and to take managerial input at specific times.

"How do you start this breakdown process? You begin with a long-term perspective."

"Companies that want to make the most of the time available to them must abandon their 'punch the clock' mentality, be it a full-time, part-time, or flextime clock. It is not enough to 'bend' work time; it must be broken up and reconfigured if the power of technology and human ingenuity and diligence to create growth opportunities in today’s knowledge and service-driven economy is to be realized."

Here's one that's out of the box: non-solar time. Check out OmniTime. I am not a believer. Then again, I never thought FedEx would make it either.

"The space of time separating George Washington's first inauguration in April 1789 from Lincoln's first in March 1861 was only seventy-two years, a mote in the eye of history. But that slice of history contained extraordinary events. From a third-rate republic, a sliver of sparsely populated seaboard extending inland from the Atlantic for a few hundred miles, threatened by foreign powers and dangerous Indian tribes, America had become a pulsing, burgeoning world economic power whose lands stretched across the entire continent." --Don't Know Much About History

"In the old days, you'd finish a day's work and announce, 'I'm done.' Nobody ever does that now. There's never enough time."

Elliott Masie

How do you know time is passing?

Epigenesis... If things don't develop at their appropriate time, they are not going to develop at a later one.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Time

A lot of the differences among people are, in fact, based on their differences in time perspective. Zimbardo has found that students who are future-oriented tend to wear watches, take many notes in class and study for longer periods of time, smile more and laugh less than those in the here-and-now group. In the south Bronx where Zimbardo grew up, people live in the "expanded present," with no future or past. Some attributes of the expanded-present mode: greater enjoyment of sex, nerve enough to take risks, greater artistic creativity. "What's happening?" .

..research by Stanford's Philip Zimbardo.

Lenk, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

A trail always takes longer the first time. Therefore, to extend time, be adventurous and take a lot of new trails. Avoid the familiar path Stay out of ruts).

The month Henry Ford was born, July 1863, horses dragged Union and Confederate cannon to Gettysburg. The first gasoline-powered automobile was 23 years in the future. When Ford died, in 1947, one in seven U.S. workers held a job in the automobile industry. Ford said of the Model T, the only thing wrong with it is that people stopped buying it.

Henry Ford

Every time we postpone some necessary event, we do so with the implication that present time is more important than future time.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Time is best spent when we are:

  • concentrating wholly on what we are doing
  • freeing our minds from thought altogether
  • communicating honestly with others
  • dreaming asleep or awake
  • planning
  • remembering

What is to be avoided is preoccupation and disordered occupation--the compulsive worry, the nervous escape from thought to thought, the scratching and hair-fluffing, the short circuit of distraction.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living


Clock time has lulled us into a wrong-headed sense of expectations.

"How much does he want per hour?" asked the fellow who was requesting some of my colleague's time. It's as if we churn out a good idea an hour, like working on an assembly line.

For creative knowledge workers, a brilliant insight may pop up in a matter of seconds. The world looks like this:

Nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, flash of brilliance, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada.

In knowledge work with a high degree of discretion, a flash of brilliance before breakfast is worth a lot more than eight hours of nada at the office.

More chaos, fewer hours?

The User Illusion explains that consciousness lags reality (and then covers its tracks). Your nonconscious mind is a lot closer to "now" than you are. The Mind's Past reiterates this reality, saying that our internal "interpreter" chooses the slides in the show we see. The brain decides to hold up our right arm--and we think this is something we thought up. Hah!


excerpts from Islands in the Clickstream

Telling Time by a Broken Clock By Richard Thieme

Trying to understand what's happening using old words, old images, old paradigms is like telling time by broken clocks. The landscape created by speech, writing, print is being terraformed by digital humans, rocking in our boots, out of joint with our times. We are riding a ship on the river of time as the ship is being built. It will take time to finish that ship, and when we do, we will already have been becoming something else.

In the meantime, we live between, snickering at those who expect something immense in the Year 2000 because they are rowing to the rhythm of a river overflowing its banks, flooding our town and cities, rising like rain into the mystified sky.

Millenium's End

My machinery is wired to move pretty fast, and all my life people have told me - bless their hearts - to slow down. It always comes from people who move more slowly, never from those who are faster, so once in a while I reply, no, YOU speed up. But then they think I'm rude.

It's fashionable to equate being slow with being spiritual. There's something to that, but popular culture turned it into the Forrest Gump School of Wisdom, where life is never complex and wisdom is rules for the first day of kindergarten.

Fast and slow are relative. For some projects, cycles of a thousand years work best, for others, nanoseconds. Yes, we twitchers often find serenity when we take things down a notch, when we focus on something outside ourselves that induces a state of flow and short-circuits our habitual thinking. But it's also true that we relish those moments when our brains or bodies twitch like the fingers of a teen genius at a game of Quake, lost in light-speed heaven.

Next Year
racing toward brick wall transition period heaven on earth
make gap clear, swerve make-do, stop-gap bask. then revisit gap.
recognize issues, renew hope breathing room, accommodation recognition for job well done, bonus


Gap Analysis by Time-Frame
A technique for looking at business problems


THE END OF TIME The Next Revolution in Physics. By Julian Barbour. Illustrated. 371 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $30.

Warning: extreme complexity ahead. Deep relativity.

Time does not exist. Imagine collections of triangles, cubes and other geometrical shapes. Think of an entire three-dimensional universe as built up of them and all their spatial relationships. Any universe of shapes (a configuration) compares to another, not with respect to relations in time or space (they are not ''in'' time or space), but qualitatively, in terms of their internal, intrinsic properties. (Still with me?) Each configuration is unique, and each dictates its relation to every other. (New York Times Book Review, March 26, 2000)


  Punch the clock to see recent research notes.

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