Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Slow Down, and Think: Ruminations about Time

Just as I begin thinking seriously about time and what endures as time passes (roads for one thing, if you're curious) Le Devoir has an interesting profile of French thinker Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber, whose new book Trop Vite! deals with our obsession with the short term. It appears the book hasn't been translated into English, but it looks like it might be worth the effort of reading it in the original.

Time has always been relative, even when considering it in non-theory of relativity terms. Two commonplace examples: How long a nap on a summer afternoon can last when you're a child waiting to do something interesting like going swimming! How short the time a child sleeps when you're a parent with a million things to get done with interruption!

And of course there was that curious business with Y2K. The kids who wrote the code in the mid-1970s when computers were just taking off didn't think that 25 years down the line a change in century might create problems if you didn't include enough spaces in dates. They were in their 20s themselves, and the idea of being 50 was not even considered.

But now our nano-second, instant communication world has been transformed at the speed of light, or the speed of electrical impulses. Perhaps it is time to slow down and think about what all that means.

Hot, humid summer days are perfect for that, or for taking a run at a book in French...

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