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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Time is Money, and Vice Versa

with 2 comments

Among the many catchphrases attributed to inventor, publisher, diplomat and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, one of my favorites is “time is money.”

The basic idea is that even though time is an abstract concept, it still has a real, concrete value. Usually, so the thinking goes, the more time you have, the better off you are.

Whole industries have arisen around time-saving products. The Franklin Planner time management system was reportedly based on Benjamin Franklin’s own personal system of keeping track of his days and his to-do lists. Smartphones now have time-management “apps,” and bloggers discuss topics such as the “5 simple web apps for saving time at work” and the “top 7 ways to save time on Twitter.”

Since humans do not (as of yet) have the power to lengthen the day, we all have the same 24 hours. So can we really “save” time? No. We are just shifting things around, doing less of one thing so that we can do more of another thing.

This is actually a wonderful development, because some actions are worth taking, while it is really, really nice to not have to do other things.

There is a great op-ed piece by Jon Barocas on Mashable.com that discusses the end of QR codes, the little black squares that you can scan with a smartphone and automatically navigate to a website or download other information.

The best part of the article is a YouTube video demonstration of Google Goggles, a potential successor to QR codes. Google Goggles is the search engine’s method of looking for information by taking pictures of something.

The reason I like the video is not so much because of the product demonstration, but because it illustrates how much of a time-saver the ubiquitous Web has become. Walking the streets of San Francisco, the narrator is able to access information that would have required the nearby presence of street maps, printed telephone books, library card catalogues, and old copies of Wine Speculator magazine. Yet he was able to get all of the relevant information streamed to his smartphone in time to have lunch.

So if “time is money,” the reverse is also true: “money is time.” If you have the money to afford a smartphone, you can use it to “buy” time that is then spent on lunch at some out-of-the-way Italian restaurant, rather than at the nearest library.

I am cautiously optimistic that Benjamin Franklin would approve.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

February 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great read, Charles. I’m definitely going to take a look into those web app’s for saving time at work!

    Complex Visuals

    February 17, 2012 at 3:58 am

    • Thanks Marcie. The apps all look very useful, especially as my colleagues and I do more of our online work outside of the office. Maybe the flow-chart app can help empower us all to do more with DIY infographics.

      charlesprimm

      February 17, 2012 at 8:58 am


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