Saturday, July 28, 2012

Digital time and the loss of the inexact

I woke up this morning at 4:38 because my dog barked.  4:38. Not around 4:30.

Digital time keeping has made me over-exact in my time awareness.  In the days of analog clocks, exact time was rarely mentioned.

It was a quarter to, a quarter after,  half past, 10 after, 20 till.  And it was 10 after even if the minute hand was actually on the 9 or 11 mark.

I used the term "quarter to 3" when a preteen asked me the time and she gave me a blank look.  2:45, I clarified.  Her confusion cleared.  

I understand that digital is easier to learn, but sometimes the precision bothers me.  I try to go back to the old, more vague ways, without success.  When the clock says 5:03, it feels wrong to say "around 5".

Now, saying "quarter to 10", feels forced when the clock reads 9:45.  It's easier to be vague if you are looking at an analog clock.  Of course, digital clocks outnumber the analog clocks in my house, 2 to 1.

Still, the "exact" time depends on which digital clock I looking at.  I have 7 digital time keepers in my house.

Not one of them displays the same time.

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