The Awl: What time is it and Where am I?

In the modern world we’re never more than a glance away from a digital display of today’s date or the time to the nearest second. The use of GPS devices in cars or even in our own pockets with smartphones has all but eroded the art of map-reading and navigation. This is all exceedingly convenient, of course, but I think that many of us in developed nations are feeling increasingly disconnected from the fundamental principles and processes that support our lives, sensing that our basic skills are atrophying and perhaps feeling anxious of being a little too reliant on the magic of modern technology.

So let’s try a thought experiment. If you’re forced back to the absolute basics, how could you use simple observations to tell the time, reconstruct the calendar and work out your location anywhere on planet Earth? Being able to tell the time enables a society to regulate and synchronize its civic activities—marketplace trade or congregation (perhaps for religious purposes) are all choreographed to the beat of the hour. The reason the calendar was devised in the first place was to ensure successful agricultural practices, and thus sufficient food for the population, and accurate navigation is crucial to prevent getting yourself lost in the wilderness.

Read the full article on The Awl website here

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