Note to self:
Figure out a good way to (once again) write about the concept of the International Date Standard or International Date Format. It's an important subject that should be talked about more as the world gets smaller and we all get more connected. It's also quite a boring subject. A real yawner. Seriously...
Hmm. Perhaps I could tie it in with the date of September 9th, 2009, since that will help demonstrate my point (with the 9/9/9). I don't know, though, that seems kind of ... pretentious. This is going to be tough.
So, I may have mentioned before on this blog that I have a tattoo. It's about 3 inches square and located on my back by my left-- er, no,.. right shoulder. Sorry, it looks backwards to me in the mirror. Whatever.
Anyway, it's a memento or reminder of my son and his short time with us. Tattoos aren't really shocking anymore to most people so it's no big deal. On those rare occasions when people see the tattoo when I have my shirt off (at the pool or the occasional Lynyrd Skynyrd concert), I always hope that it will be a conversation starter. Most tattoos have a good story to go behind them (right, Tiny?) and mine is no different.
The first thought on this is that someone who doesn't know about Lucas would ask who he was. It would give me a second or two to tell people about my son and SIDS and what these last two years have meant to me. I'm proud to talk about him any time someone asks.
The second and much less important thought on this is that at some point someone would ask me what's up with the numbers below his name. They must be dates but they are kinda backwards, aren't they? I'll post a pic of the draft I used for the tattoo since those of you reading along can't see mine right now.
You will notice that the date starts with the year first, then the month and then day. The format for this is YYYY.MM.DD and is probably unfamiliar to those of you that have lived your whole life in the USA and were never in the military.
Most of us have lived our whole lives not knowing there was a different way to abbreviate the date except in the way we were originally taught. For me (and most Americans), this was MM/DD/YYYY or MM/DD/YY. So April 26th, 2007 comes out to 04/26/2007 or just 4/26/07.
crazy Europeans, on the other hand, abbreviate their dates with DD/MM/YY. So Christmas this year would be 25/12/2009.
Simple enough for everyone so far, as long as the day is after the 12th of the month. But if you see 01/02/03 printed on the page, is this January 2nd or February 1st of 2003? Other countries and cultures around the world have different schemes and patterns that completely diverge from these two examples so what should we do to avoid confusion?
Enter the Standard
So using the logical concept that the larger unit of time (year) should come first and then proceed to progressively smaller units of time (month, then day). This not only makes a great deal of sense, but is supported and suggested by the people in charge; the International Organization of Standardization! Never heard of them? Well, they are in fact in charge of stuff just like this. Put simply, they are...
...an international-standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. ...the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary industrial and commercial standards.
If their abbreviated name - ISO - sounds familiar, it's because many of the more widely-adopted standards they've published have become known by the association with the group. For instance, CD-ROM file format is usually referred to as .ISO because they all use the ISO 9660 standard file system. Film speed is also commonly referred to by an ISO number for the same reason; by ISO 5800. But the group has drafted and published thousands more standards, including ISO 8601 for date and time formatting.
As the world becomes a more integrated place, we may all need to learn to recognize these more universal formats. I've been a fan of this idea since before Lucas was born, especially the YYYY/MM/DD. It's also easier in technology, as files listed with dates this way will be more easily organized "alphabetically" into the proper order by date. Which is easier to perceive chronologically? Folders and files organized like this? ::
Or the same entries organized like this? ::
News websites and blogs are most often organized this way, and you may have already noticed that the date headings on my blog are formatted this way. It just makes more logical sense, is easier for the eye, easier for the computer and will make your dates easier to recognize around the world.
So remember, do your part to use International Date Format whenever possible. Do it now, or I'll take off my shirt and show you my tattoo. You have been warned.