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Cognitive Design

Here’s Why Analog Timekeeping beats Digital Hands Down

Over 45 years ago back in the late ’60s, the digital flip clock was born. It was cool, novel and fun to watch it flip. Since then we’ve adapted digital readouts on watches to computers to smart phones—pushing the analog clock out to the curb. But could digital clocks be affecting our daily performance big-time?

Time wear it all began

Wearing a watch as a kid gave me a sense of responsibility. It nudged me to do things like homework or when my next class started. As responsibilities grew, I learned to value my relationship with time. We became good friends. I saw and felt orderly movement when wearing a watch. Each number became a visual landmark as the hourly hand confidently strutted passed each number as I went about my day.

Digital vs. Analog timekeeping

Unfortunately, it seems that over time our personal digital readout world can carelessly be chopped-up and assigned into life-task segments. I find that digital time tends to manage our time quite differently which may cause people to work like mini computers—dehumanizing our value of time. With that said, there is an important role for digital timekeeping which are found in sensors, countdowns, prompts, computer code and we can’t forget some of our favorite sporting events.

The droplets vs. water in glass analogy

In the digital world, imagine each second representing a droplet of water on a surface. As the numbers keep adding up, you’re constantly doing math to know how much time has passed or how much time is ahead of you—creating a very difficult passage of time relationship. In addition, digital time have no spacial or volume characteristics—which in effect, could present a false sense of time and conceivably give people unnecessary anxiety while in a timely task.

Analog speaks volumes

Imagine every second a droplet is caught within a drinking glass—combining each droplet into physical volume as it represents an amount of time past. Volume of time is vitally important to know when associating it to a task and responsibility.

Seeing time travel gives visual confirmation

With an analog clock you can actually see where time has traveled and where it’s going as it visually passes by numbers or markings. Completely synced as one, there’s a body/time/visual relationship that cognitively helps the mind comprehend the measurement and passage of time. The face of the clock become a visual map.


My conclusions on analog timekeeping

• Your day becomes more productive

• Greater awareness of time

• Lessens stress and time anxiety

• Socially fitting. Keeps your cell phone tucked away.

• Bonus! Wearing a watch is fashionable. I would recommend including 3 into your collection. Sport, casual and evening wear.


Topic related links:

Check out the fascinating industry of Horology.

American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute: Advancing the Art, Science and Business of Horology

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