Bit -> Jiffy -> Moment -> Spell

Joe Gregorio

I just installed AIM. Yes, just. I have used IRC on and off over the past two years, but apparently the vast majority of people use AIM. This is suprising to me. Suprising because the people I need it to talk to are internet savvy people that are using a closed, proprietary, centrally controlled protocol, when I was expecting a preference for an open protocol like Jabber. It's not a big deal, I just found it odd. But that isn't what I want to talk about. The install of AIM is what I want to talk about.

What jumped out at me, not on the first install mind you, but later, when I was installing AIM on a second machine, was a informational message. The AIM installer pops up with a little box stating, "Please be patient, the installation may take a few moments."

'few moments'?

Now I can see it taking 'a moment', but I never thought of moments as things that could accumulate, things that could be aggregated. This opens up whole new questions, what do moments add up to? Spells? How many moments are in a spell? And what makes up a moment? Bits? Or are bits what make up a jiffy? How can we operate like this? Obviously this is an area that needs better specification so here's my proposal, a rough draft of gregorio-vague-time-scale-hierarchy-00 if you would:

  1. There a ten bits to a jiffy.
  2. Ten jiffies to a moment.
  3. Ten moments to a spell.
  4. And ten spells to an age.

Now that we have a spec we can use it to translate phrases. For example, "I'll be back in a bit", could be re-written as, "I'll be back in a tenth of a jiffy". Or, "I'll be there in a minute" translates to "I'll be there in a 100 bits".

If you have any feedback on this please provide it in the next moment or two, since were heading into a corner turn in a spell, after that we'll be deployed and there's no turning back.

Don't forget fractional parts of these units, such as the classic Cockney "alf a mo".

Posted by Danny on 2004-03-28

According to at least one Ph.D. and a physical chemist from the 19th century, being back in a bit would require you to break space-time boundaries.  Check to see what I mean.

Posted by Kurtiss on 2004-03-28

Interesting to note on that page that even strict terms like a 'second' are pretty vague and under constant redefinition.

Posted by Joe on 2004-03-28

Give me 10 jiffies to decide on what to write in response to this really neat article. good one!

Posted by Seun Osewa on 2004-04-08

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