I have abandoned the project to make decimal time systems, firstly because it is really impractical, and secondly because I’ve realized that a base-16 numeral system is preferable to base-10 anyway. But of course, I couldn’t quit altogether. Our conventional systems are so frustratingly bad, I had to at least try to make them more intelligible. Here are my suggestions for new ways to present our conventional time systems; one for the clock, one for the calendar, and one for a full lifetime (100 years). The idea is that a new way of presenting these things will enable us to relate to time in an easier and more intuitive way. For me at least, they do the trick.
I’ve introduced my idea for the “clock” before, but for the occasion I have made a more presentable image file. To repeat what the idea behind it is: to include only the 16 waking hours, and split these up in four groups of four hours each. Why four? Because this number is so eminently intelligible.
The following is my new suggestion for how to reorganize the calendar. It was made with the OpenOffice equivalent of Excel (here’s the file, in .pdf and .xls format). As you can see, I have split the year in four seasons with an equal number of complete weeks. This way, it is not strictly adjusted to any definition of New Year, but starts, loosely, somewhere near the winter solstice. Also, a day or two will be left out of the overview of any one year, but this is of lesser importance, as the calendar is optimized just for ease of comprehension.
And finally, my suggestion for how to present the time available to one in one’s entire life. Plotted below is my own life (descriptions in Norwegian). It was quite powerful for me to see my whole life laid out like this. That might be partly because I have a poor memory, but I think a diagram such as this provides a perspective that would be useful even to people with excellent memory. On the one hand perspective on how long life really is, on the other, how significant every single season is.
The two quarter-circles on the outside of the life-circle represents the two seasons on the cold side of the equinoxes, and vice versa with the inner quarter-circles. My life began in the spring of 1983, and the chart ends 100 years after that. Click the image for a larger version.
I have taped the calendar and the lifetime overview on my door, so I see them several times a day. And I have printed out a few copies of the week overview, with the intention of testing it out over the coming weeks as a tool to help me make better use of my time. Already the comprehension of time is motivating. I have a feeling this method will work better than have some previous approaches of mine.
One last thing: An list view of how the decimal time project developed. This is provided primarily to get trackback links to here in reply to each of these posts.
- Version 1 (in Norwegian)
- Helpful tables for version 1 (in Norwegian)
- Version 1.5 (from now on, all versions are in English)
- Version 2
- Helpful tables for version 2
- Version 3 (an outline)
Bah, rationality has a way of undermining its own proposals. I’ve already managed to revise the Rational calendar so comprehensively that it has to be called version 3. Here it is (and I think it’s a keeper this time!):
- Exactly 90 day “seasons” to replace the variable month system of the Gregorian calendar. In version 2, the length was set to 91 days, but I realized that it’s much more important to make date calculation easy than to precisely balance the seasons on either side of the winter solstice.
- The five or six days not covered by the seasons are collected at the end of the year as a holiday.
- Each season can, in a transition period, be split in three groups of 30 days and called months, by the standard names.
- 10 day weeks. Week counts are reset by each month, so you have to say what season it is to be unambiguous. This is because it shouldn’t be necessary to do calculations to understand what period is referred to.
If you’ve been paying attention, you see how remarkably similar this is to the French Revolutionary Calendar. Which, bitterly, is kind of where I started.
I’ll come back to this after my exams, wrap it up properly, present some visuals, printable calendars, a furry mascot, and much more.
Here’s a couple of translation tables to make the inevitable switch from the Gregorian calendar to my brilliant alternative a bit easier:
|1st day of Winter, 2009||Dec. 21st, 2008|
|1st day of Spring||March 22nd, 2009|
|1st day of Summer||June 21st|
|1st day of Autumn||Sept. 20th|
Awrg, now I’m reminded that we need to do something about the year count as well… I’ve suggested starting at 10 000, to encompass the entire history of civilization in the positive count, but I’m not completely convinced myself yet. Tell me if you have a better suggestion. Until one is found, I’ll just continue to use the standard one.
This table is better than the above for calculating what day it is:
|Dec. 21st, 2008||Winter 1st, 2009|
|Jan. 1st, 2009||Winter 12th|
|Feb. 1st||Winter 43rd|
|March 1st||Winter 71st|
|March 22nd||Spring 1st|
|April 1st||Spring 11th|
|May 1st||Spring 41st|
|June 1st||Spring 72nd|
|June 21st||Summer 1st|
|July 1st||Summer 11th|
|August 1st||Summer 42nd|
|Sept. 1st||Summer 73rd|
|Sept. 20th||Autumn 1st|
|Oct. 1st||Autumn 12th|
|Nov. 1st||Autumn 43rd|
|Dec. 1st||Autumn 73rd|
|Dec. 20th, 2009||Extra-calendrical holiday!|
|Dec. 21st, 2009||Winter 1st, 2010|
In the Gregorian calendar, today is May 11th, which is 10 days from May 1st, so in the Rational calendar it translates as the 51st day of Spring.
Birthdays are trickier to translate, because in the Gregorian calendar winter solstice isn’t fixed to a date, and might fall on another date in the year you were born than in the current one. My own birthday is 16th of May (1983), but the winter solstice of 1982 fell on the 22nd of December, so if I define my birthday using the Rational calendar, I should celebrate my birthday the 15th of May this year, which, by coincidence is what it’ll continue to be the next few years as well. But as this chart shows, it will slowly slide backward to an earlier date: