This is an extract from a shortly to be published 4 Part series on Data. Not a deep analysis of data, but rather a simple ‘Exploration for the Common Man’ - ok and Woman, I tried how to blend the two more efficiently, its just that the word play on Copland just doesn’t flow as well.
If I were brought up in America, I would know instantly that Samuel Morse died on the 4th February. If you are from the UK, based on that data point, you would correct me and let me know that he actually died on the 2nd April. The absolute truth of when he died, using only that single piece of data is at question, because we do not even have an agreed understanding of how dates get abbreviated. Not only that - was that 1972? 1872? 1772? … If you know who Samuel Morse is, you could surmise that the year was 1872, but you still don’t absolutely know that he wasn’t an old school friend of my father who died April 2nd, 1972 in the UK. And we wonder how it is that basic world facts can get so convoluted! To be absolutely accurate we need to know where he died - and the time. (Dying at 2 am on a Thursday in Germany means that you died late afternoon to early evening on the Wednesday in the USA ( can’t be specific because the US has six time zones - and without looking it up, had ‘the clocks.changed’? It gets worse and I don’t intend to bore you with the many ways that this ‘gets complicated’ - as Facebook would have it, but as Steve used to say;
Global society has mostly agreed that the last two digits in the xx/yy/zz format is always ‘the year.’ We still can’t agree over day first or month first. Well, specifically most of us can - it is - once again the Americans that are at odds with the world. 02/04/72 is the 4th of February, 1972 in the USA and the 2nd of April, 1972 in most of the world. The US is the only country in the world that interprets the basic data this way.
Personally, left to my own devices China is the only country that has the date formatted that makes sense to me … year - month - date …. but that is another story and happy to discuss in the comments if someone raises the question.
That all said … when using dates …