This week’s readings for my New Media Seminar encompass how we understand time (according to McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which I am proud to say I read way back in 1993 when it came out in graphic novel form).
Those who know me well know that I have a very complicated calendaring system using Google Calendar across all of my screens—laptop, iPad, and iPhone. I also have a paper calendar but pretty much the only time I look at it anymore is when I’m in the kitchen writing out a check for my babysitter. Anyway, the newest iOS has finally matched how I have always thought about calendar time in my mind. For as long as I can remember, I have visualized time, and myself in time, as existing on a limitless continuum of months—just as they are represented in Calendar on my iPhone 5s. Of course, there are some differences: I visualize frames around each date (similar to how McCloud describes the frames around comic panels); I have always visualized the months stretching out in an unbroken horizontal line, rather than vertically, as Calendar has them; but these differences are relatively unimportant. At any rate, I always have a sense of the months than have gone before as how much of the present year has been used up, and the months to come as relevant chunks of time. I’ve also always worked on an academic calendar, for example, so I think in chunks of time such as quarters, semesters, summers, winter breaks, etc. When I have the option, as on my laptop or iPad, or by turning my phone horizontally, I choose to view my particular place in time in “weekly” view.
I fear this is getting boring, so let me amuse you a bit more (or perhaps not) with a glace at a typical week in my calendar:
Gosh, I look busy, don’t I? And (to my eternal chagrin) the iPad picture doesn’t show the fancy color-coding I use while accessing Google Calendar via a web browser. I use color-coded chunks of time so that I can tell at a glance which proportion of my week is dedicated to research (Book, BPS, CP Paper, meetings with various RAs, etc.), service (attending a thesis defense) and personal (school events, rallies attended, etc.)
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check my calendar at least once per hour. But it keeps me on track, helps me get my things done, and as I set my to-dos in the “all day” portion (so they appear at the top), I also am able to remember things like calling my grandma on her 94th birthday (Hi, Grandma!).
So what does it mean? Has this digital format changed my conception of time? Probably. I think of time in chunks even more than I used to—down to the 15-minute chunk I allotted on Wednesday for picking my dog Appa up from the groomer. I can’t say that it’s better or worse, but it works for me. And I can even fit in a pickling workshop.