Colin Dickey: Tempo Shifts

Colin Dickey has a great article on Berfrois called Tempo Shifts on the Gregorian reform. Here’s an extract:

The Gregorian Reform was motivated initially by religious purposes: the slippage was moving Easter farther into summer, creating problems with the festival calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The solution devised by the Church was first to remove Leap Days from three out of four centennial years (thus, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 would not by Leap Years, but 2000 would), bringing the calendar closer in line to the actual solar year. Additionally, ten days were to be dropped from the Calendar to bring Easter back in line with its date in the fourth century, when it was first established by the Council of Nicea. October 5-14, 1582, the Pope decreed, would disappear.

Read the whole thing. Great subplot on Guardian versus Trader uses of time (ecclesiastical versus commercial calendars have different needs).

HT: Alan Martin.

Why Sleeping-In Makes You More Tired

There’s a good article in Wired about why oversleeping doesn’t help.

We’ve all been there: It’s been a long week at work, so Friday night, you reward yourself by going to bed early and sleeping in. But when you wake up the next morning (or afternoon), light scathes your eyes, and your limbs feel like they’re filled with sand. Your brain is still lying down and you even have faint headache. If too little sleep is a problem, then why is extra sleep a terrible solution?

Oversleeping feels so much like a hangover that scientists call it sleep drunkenness. But, unlike the brute force neurological damage caused by alcohol, your misguided attempt to stock up on rest makes you feel sluggish by confusing the part of your brain that controls your body’s daily cycle.

How Different Cultures Understand Time

There’s an interesting article in Business Insider about how different cultures understand time (ht Nikolay Bezhko). It includes this neat graphic.




The article is rather limited (does not mention the very relevant books by Robert Levine, Jay Griffiths and Jeremy Rifkin on the subject), but does make several interesting observations.

Everyone is Special

Found this interesting article on national grand narratives (ht Mick Costigan):

It follows that understanding a country’s exceptionalism narrative is key to anticipating how public opinion might move or be moved there, or to communicating effectively with the people of that country. Lack of this understanding makes it all but inevitable that U.S. statesmen and officials at various levels miss important signals and commit needless diplomatic missteps. Regardless of how any American assesses the accuracy, legitimacy or uniqueness of America’s own exceptionalism narrative, it is critical that we understand what other countries think is exceptional about themselves.

Read the whole thing: Everyone is Special. Covers Russian and Chinese exceptionalist narratives among others.

In related news, this narrative based business intelligence outfit looks interesting: Narrative Science.


Two Examples of Narrative Time

In the last week, I came across two interesting examples of what I called narrative time (as opposed to clock time) in Tempo. The first is this interesting analysis of the creative potential of tempo in the pacing of episode-releases in television shows, now that they have been decoupled from clock time by on-demand technology (HT Kartik Agaram).

Let’s quickly survey the Cambrian explosion of season-shapes. House of Cards falls from the sky like a crate of emergency rations. Sherlock delivers a tight burst of movie-caliber episodes, then disappears for two years. True Detective and American Horror Story remake themselves every season with a new cast and story. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. braids itself into the Marvel movie machine. (As I’m writing this, the show has just pivoted in mid-season to reflect the revelations of the Captain America movie that premiered the week prior.) This year, Louie marches double-time, airing not one but two new episodes every Monday. No season of TV has yet pulled a Beyoncé and arrived entirely without warning, but surely, it’s coming.

Complete article over at Medium: The Art of Anticipation.

The business story behind the artistic evolution is also interesting: check out this Wired story on how Netflix and other companies are fighting over narrative time.

The other example is this hilarious set of clock-time estimates for the narrative time vocabulary of the modern workplace (HT Alan Martin):

“Just a sec” = 5 minutes

“Just a minute” = 10 minutes

“Pick your brain” = 17 minutes or, in rare cases, 90 seconds

“Quick chat” = 48 minutes

Complete article over at McSweeney’s: Corporate Time Equivalents