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SWATCH iTime at the Media Lab

This page provides a JavaScript wrapper around Swatch's Internet Time Applet that allows you to have a little iTime clock on your desktop no matter what OS you run. Swatch provides desktop clocks for PC and MAC, but not Unix.

This service is provided by Christopher R. Wren


Why didn't you make it smaller?

JavaScript won't open a window smaller than 100x100 unless the script is signed. Instead of just leaving a bunch of whitespace under the applet, I decided to add some useful buttons. I won't be offended if you resize the window to hide those buttons. I'll eventually figure out how to sign JavaScripts and I'll fix this.

What's iTime?

It's a time-zone-less time standard that Swatch unveiled at the Jr. Summit '98.

What's Jr. Summit?

See the webpage: Jr. Summit '98

Doesn't the world already have a universal time ITU standard, called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), that works perfectly well with all my pre-existing chronometers?

Umm... yup. Here's a UTC applet clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

So why did Swatch invent this crazy timecode? Isn't inventing a new timecode just a clever ploy to sell more watches?

I don't know. Maybe. I don't work for Swatch. They have a short blurb describing iTime on their site.

However, If you think about everyone in the world using UTC, then the timecodes would still have their midnight, morning, and noon connotations, but those notions would only be correct for a sliver of people near the Prime Meridian. You'd be forcing people to unlearn long-held notions of time that are attached to the timecode format.

With a new timecode that bears no resemblance to traditional time, it's somewhat easier to stop thinking about time in a way that's not rooted in geography. Maybe it's easier to make the jump to thinking about iTime as a truly global time.

Decimal time is also a pretty cool idea. Why 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day? Decimal time is a better idea... although I wonder if they've really done the math on this? Is 1000 beats 24 hours? Or is it the actual length of a day (either solar or sidereal)? And in any case the length of a year is never going to be a nice round number of beats... sigh.

Is that enough to make people want to use the new timecode?

Time will tell. Ha Ha Ha

But the issue of the world being round doesn't go away that easily.

True. If we decide on an arbitrary iTime for a meeting without thinking carefully, then one or both of us might be asleep when it happens, but I have that problem with people who live in the same timezone anyway. Hackers don't tend to conform to the 9-5 ethic, and I suppose the implication is that in the near future (now?), the rest of the world might not either.

Can't I just download the applet from Swatch and run it under appletviewer?


So why did you make this page?

"Christopher R. Wren" <>
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