Post Discussion/Class Reflection
I was still unclear exactly to the claims and arguments of Luckmann after reading his chapter on Sunday. There were many ideas and concepts that were brought up to facilitate the challenges of navigating through this discussion of Time. I felt that the contribution of the professor and other classmates helps to give the article greater structure to scaffold my understanding of what was being introduced.
When thinking about how my background could contribute to this reading, I started thinking about how humans have sought to find a more definitive and accurate unit of time to constitute a unit of time to help synchronize their activities. I imagined that the cycle of days were probably the most fundamental way they can reliably agree with other humans about time. As there was probably a general understanding of initiating the day and terminating the day. Eventually it would lead to partitioning the day into increments using the consistency of the sun and developing tools like the sundial. Then progressing to more advanced and precise tools to partition time. As brought up in class and learning how the Babylonian developed the idea of 60 minutes in an hour and such (60 being a very malleable number to divide by 2,3,4,5 and 6), humans eventually advanced further into dividing time into smaller units in order to synchronize their activities. Something that always raised many trivial questions in my mind, is how athletes have become so scrutinizing of their performance in events like track and field that they measure their differences of hundredths of a second and even thousandths. Eventually scientific experimentation needed to be freed from the constraint of human perception to measure the behavior of elements and biological systems beyond our visual capacity relying on a new unit of time that can be synchronized among the scientific community. Now the standard for clocks are atomic based and are as sensitive to rely on 9192631770 periods of the radiation of a cesium atom.
But even outside the scale of the atom, physicist have now introduced the noticed as early as the middle of the 20th century that time is relative and is a product of gravity’s influence on matter. Thus the perception of time will vary depending on ones relative distance from the largest body in which gravity is acting on it. While it might be something outside our perception living on earth, it becomes a new means of understanding this elusive concept that supports the subjectivity of time.
After the class, I felt that outside the realm of partitioning up time for the sake of the activity of science, in other disciplines, the political science realm has its own way to subjectively discretize time. In regards of national security policy, with each new president we often see a new policy introduced, but sometimes it carries over from one administration to the next administration. Thus we see time as not in the matter of years or even presidents but by the changing of one policy to the next. Maybe in economics/finance we see how investors go from bear markets to bull markets or how the the closing bells notifies the closing of the trading day. For the new wave of computational engineers and scientist relying on the massive ability of computers to compute large data with complex algorithms, time is relative and disconnected from days, hours, but by computing cycles needed to complete a task, which is a floating point operation per second (Flops). In everyday conversation you might hear me say things like, back in my day it took hours to download a song or a week to download a video. And now we can download videos in seconds, which now changes our perception of time. Similar to how the steam locomotive ushered the industrial revolution and changed the number of weeks to travel around the country to mere days. Before 1800, it took 6 weeks to reach the Mississippi, and after the steam engine, it only took 4 weeks to reach the pacific ocean. Such a revolution in transportation would shift people’s perception of time and from generation to generation would see gradual improvements that alters not just our understanding of transportation but also communication and the amount of time expecting a response.
Thus from some of these examples drawn from various activities and socialization among humans, I can see how it supports the argument that time can be social construct, where there is a dependence on a relativistic metric which has the common denominator of the length of time to help coordinate and synchronize humans in the participation of various activities.