San Francisco, California

10 Timeframes

I’m reading this post on the value of time by Paul Ford again and dammit it’s the sort of writing that makes me reel with envy:

The only unit of time that matters is heartbeats. Even if the world were totally silent, even in a dark room covered in five layers of foam, you’d be able to count your own heartbeats.

When you get on a plane and travel you go 15 heartbeats per mile. That is, in the time it takes to travel a mile in flight your heart beats 15 times. On a train your heart might beat 250 times per mile.

And we count this up and we make sense of it. We’re constantly switching accelerations; we’re jumping between time frames. That’s what we’re asking people to do every time we make something new, some new tool or product. We’re asking them to reset their understanding of time.

For the past couple of months I’ve been working on a time tracking app and so I’ve been thinking a lot about how we record and value time. But anyway, I really love the extract that Paul takes from the book The Soul of a New Machine (which I found to be not very sticky and so ditched it like fifty pages in):

I am going to a commune in Vermont and will deal with no unit of time shorter than a season.

As soon as I read that I thought of how my understanding of time is different when I’m on my phone compared to my laptop. On my phone I’m always filtering through mass amounts of noise on Twitter or on Instagram or something. But when I’m sat in front of an honest to goodness keyboard I appreciate that time a great deal more. There’s an earnest attempt to write or read something smart whilst on my phone I’m just trying to scroll through time as quickly as possible.

I don’t know what to call this type of time, this type of surfing the web with a keyboard, but I know that if I don’t do it at least once I week I feel genuinely awful. Traversing my RSS feed and making a few awkward notes about what I’m up to is peculiarly energizing and, oddly enough, inspirational.

I think I’m going to call this feeling Keyboard Time.