Right now, as I write, it’s 3 pm GMT 15 January 2021. The date is under the title of this piece. So anyone reading this tomorrow will know that I was writing this yesterday. And anyone reading this a week from now will know I wrote it last week. And they’ll know that Donald Trump was still President of the United States back then, and Boris Johnson UK Prime Minister. They’ll know the context in which I was writing, what was going on back then, what was happening.
The same is true of a lot of other blog posts and emails and newspaper articles. Most of them are also timestamped.
Now I also watch a lot of videos as well as reading a lot of stuff. And the odd thing about videos is that a lot of them – most of them – have no timestamps. And so when I’m watching them I’m always trying to figure out when they were shot. And it’s not obvious.
For example, here’s a video of Dave Rubin talking to someone called Patrick Byrne. There’s a date under the YouTube video that says 13 January 2021. Was that when it was shot? Or was that when it was uploaded? Or is that when somebody decided to draw attention to it? It’s not clear which.
It would be much more clear if one or the other of them had a calendar behind them, and maybe a clock as well. Some videos have digital timestamps showing time and date.
But neither have any of these. And so there’s no context. They could have been talking a day ago, or a month ago, or a year ago.
The only way to figure out when they were talking is to listen to what they’re saying, and look for timestamps in their words. For example if one of them says “Donald Trump spoke yesterday to the nation,” that could maybe provide a timestamp. But you have to listen very carefully for such clues. And very often there are no clues.
There’s a lot of stuff in the background. A fireplace and various bits and pieces. There’s plenty of space to put a calendar, or a written date on a piece of paper. But there’s nothing giving any clue of the date.
Sometimes I find myself watching something and suddenly realising that it was created 10 years ago.
So a lot of times I watch and listen with interest, but afterwards I’m usually left wondering when it was shot. Could be yesterday, or last week, or last year. There’s no context.
Too bad, I guess.
I’ll never know.