A further 3 years and 2 months have passed since I originally wrote this page and I am still sticking to the ISO 8601 standard. I am quite happy with it and it works very well for me for all my date and time notation needs. I do wish more people would use it and QuickBooks would let me use it without buggin' out. But that is old news; my new pet peeve is the vile demon - daylight savings time. I despise it so much that I can't talk rationally about it. I can feel my blood pressure raising right now. I was already an anti-fan of daylight savings time and then this year some idiot decided to change the dates when daylight savings time would start and end, messing up many of my older clocks and devices that do not have a provision for daylight savings time changing. My current thinking is to switch to UTC in protest and vehemently persecute all users of any other point of time reference.
It has been seven years since I wrote this little note. Recently, I have shifted my direction on putting extra characters in to space the units out. I now am putting my support behind the Campaign to get the Internet World to use the International Date Format ISO 8601.
What is this eight digit number? The answer is simple. Many would call it the date. I call it the time, because the difference between date and time is merely scale and time is usually used as the more general concept.
So how does that theory relate to the number shown. The layout is simple and extendable. For now I will deal with absolute time, relative time is another story for later. The first four digits are the year. This is a useful layout for the last 1997 years and the next 8003 years.
Beyond that, the number of digits for the year will change a bit. The next two digits are the month. The last two digits are the day of the month. Beyond that there can follow many more digits to more specifically refer to a point in time. These digits are separated from the first group by a space. Two digits for the hours. Two digits for the minutes. Two digits for the seconds. And fractions of a second can follow indefinitely.
The most obvious reason for writing time in this manner is that it makes sense. Writing the time is a means of capturing and cataloguing that most pretentious of dimensions. So writing it in the order of significance is the best way of clearly marking the order of things happened. Writing the day or month first is quite popular throughout the world, but to me it makes little sense; why is the primary mode sorting the things that happen to sort things by anything other than the actual order that they happened? I'd have to give the reason as tradition (a weak excuse at best).
My next stage in the time writing process is to remove the complexity in the the area around the daily area of the time count. Months range from 1 to 12, not too bad. Days range from 1 to 28 to 31 depending on the month and the year, very complex. The hours range from 0 to 23 which is reasonably complex. The minutes and seconds range from 0 to 59, also a reasonably complex range. To come up some sort of metric method of counting time is a challenge. The Rata Die people have a good start. But what I am thinking about is when you lose the Earth reference point. I guess the best choice is to just pick a point in time and call it 0 and go up and down in some arbitrary unit to specify everything else, but this looses all the useful information that can be quickly gathered by knowing the month and the time of day. The only reasonably useful system is a complex machine that can deal with absolute time and relative time in any place or time in the universe. That is complex, and also not really necessary for my daily use. So for now I will stick with my mutated traditional system.