Deconstructing The Watch: About Time

by Randy Murray on October 7, 2014

As we endure the endless speculation about the upcoming, but mostly unknown Apple Watch I prefer to explore what makes something a watch, and, what that thing we wear on our wrists might become.

To do that, we need to have a discussion about time.

We can be philosophical about time or we can go deep into physics to explore this “4th dimension.”

Time is the ocean that we swim through life in.

Time is just one damn thing after another.

Time is a fundamental, physical quantity. In this modern world we can measure it to great accuracy.

Système International d’Unités, the International System of Units, sets the measurement of time thus:

The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.

We can debate whether time exists, whether we can travel any direction but forward within it, and whether others experience time differently than we do. We marvel at how the passage of time seems to accelerate as we age.

Time is a reference point. We use clocks and watches and other devices that can mimic them to help us to coordinate our actions. I work with people and chat with friends all around the planet easily because we can agree on a time to do so and our devices are all coordinated. We do not use differing time measurement systems.

The watch, the device that we wear on our wrists, is, perhaps, the most conveniently placed time reference device. We do not have to search around for a clock or display. We do not have to dig through our pockets or bags. We simply glance at our wrists. And that moment of focus helps us to pay attention, to coordinate actions, and, momentarily, to anchor ourselves within the 4th dimension.

You and I may differ philosophically on how we think about time, but we can plan to meet at 4 P.M. on Monday. And that is what matters, that commonality, that fixed, agreed upon reference.

“Pardon me, do you have the time?” And with that, we are, at that precise moment, synchronized.

That’s a powerful technological solution. But it is not the only thing that we can do, share, or synchronize. It’s interesting to think about what else one might do with this little thing wrapped around one’s wrist.

Deconstructing The Watch: About Time by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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