Release 1.0 on “Time and Timing”

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The December issue of Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0 is devoted to Time in computer applications:

Time is all we’ve got. Our challenge is allocating that time, intersecting our time with that of others, managing the disposition over time of the resources we control. Now at last we’re getting better tools to help us.

Time itself is abstract, but it takes on value as a measure of unique, un-tradable things: Juan’s presence, the use of Alice’s spare apartment, the time of a particular doctor or the attention of a specific audience.

But computers know nothing of this, even though time is intrinsic to their operation and they can measure it with precision… They don’t understand how people value time, nor how time changes value – both its own value, and the value of the things it measures.

…Developers are just beginning to understand the meaning of personal time. Most obvious is calendars, scheduling, events, resource allocation over time (aka project management). But there are also less obvious ways time matters in software: how people work and think over time; how human relationships, article relevance, and purchase intentions and other commercial considerations change over time; how time patterns infuse a variety of applications; and how a sense of timing can improve the utility of everything from search results to social-network-driven tools.

…One message becomes clear: The online world needs to get better at time-stamping content and activities and at standards for representing time and events – both times and durations, and all the patterns in time: speed, decay, growth, recurrence, (changing) frequency of events. Many applications spend lots of effort on interoperability that wouldn’t be necessary if we had standards.

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