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"An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000-odd fellow-Americans. He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time. But he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity."-- Benedict Anderson, "Imagined Communities," 1983
When Anderson wrote about the origins of modern nationalism, he selected the newspaper and the novel as cultural touchstones that exemplified man's ability to visualize himself as part of a unified mass of people who share a common understanding and experience of the world they inhabit. This "imagined linkage" of "print-capitalism ... made it possible for rapidly growing numbers of people to think about themselves, and relate themselves to others, in profoundly news ways."
Today, of course, we need no literary devices to lend the impression of simultaneous experience; thanks to the Internet, we are instead having simultaneous experiences all over t…

Saving daylight

In light (forgive the pun) of the recent switch to Daylight-Saving Time, I offer the following editorial, originally published in 2007:
This weekend, clocks across the country will "spring forward" earlier than usual, as we observe daylight-saving time in March, rather than April, in compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

It was 100 years ago that William Willett, credited as the father of daylight-saving time, published his pamphlet, "The Waste of Daylight," advocating that clocks be changed in spring to take advantage of summer’s late-day sunlight and readjusted in fall.

While Willett’s writing dwells largely on issues of human comfort, it does also discuss the potential energy savings that would result from such a shift _ the same savings that led to the 2005 act that has Americans changing their clocks in March.

Since its introduction in the United States in 1918, daylight-saving time has been the subject of numerous studies.

Does it save energy? How much do…

Slow vs. Fast

This recent New York Times story illustrates how the Slow movement (i.e. Slow Food, Slow Cities and the rest) is parallelling the Futurist movement to an uncanny degree. Both originated in Italy, for starters, but even beyond that, both movements seem to originate from a sane premise that then spins off into slightly less-sane pursuits. 
100 years ago, the most avant-garde artists -- the Futurists -- were embracing many of the things the Slow movement is now setting itself against. While Futurism is most closely associated with visual art, architecture and -- unfortunately -- Fascism, the Futurists were interested in influencing all aspects of human life, beyond the aesthetic. 
Consider this 1931 Time Magazine article about Futurist food and compare it with this description of Slow Food International: "an international organization whose aim is to protect the pleasures of the table from homogenization of modern fast food and life."
Though one movement began in an effort to ref…

The dawn of clockwatcher

Part resting place, part sounding board, clockwatcher is my online repository for thoughts on time -- mine and others'. 
My interest in time encompasses topics such as marine chronometers, monasteries, railroads, newspapers, vaudeville, still photography, the Futurists, splitting the atom, stopwatches, the labor movement, the Industrial Revolution, the microwave oven, TiVo, cell phones, alarm clocks, efficiency experts and the Slow Food/Slow Cities movement. 
Through this blog, I hope to explore these ideas and more, and get your input along the way. 
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  -- Carl Sandburg