How to write a date

My first post is triggered by configuring WordPress.

I went into settings to select the date format, where I found the following options for date format:

  • February 5th, 2012
  • 2012/02/05
  • 02/05/2012
  • 05/02/2012
  • Custom

At least all these formats use the full year, but how can you tell if 02/05/2012 is the second day of May or the fifth day of February? It’s even worse when writing dates without the full year: 02/05/12 could mean a lot of different dates.

For some reason, a lot of people in Europe seems to think that the European date format (Day/Month/Year) is a lot better than the US format (Month/Day/Year). Personally, neither of these makes sense. Why would you write a less significant number (day) first. If someone asks you to write the time, would you ever think about writing the minutes or seconds before the hour?

So the only sensible way of writing dates, and which is least probably of causing misunderstandings, is Year-Month-Day (with a dash, not a slash). The date is written in decreasing order of importance, as with Hour:Minute:Second. And guess what. There is an international standard for this called ISO8601.

So let’s all work together now to adapt the only sensible way of writing dates.

Fortunately WordPress has the custom option, which allowed me to create an ISO8601 date. WordPress should make this a date option, which should be the default setting.

So what does this have to do with photography?

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of photos on my hard drives. From day one (in my case, 1997-10-24, when I got my first digital camera) I’ve named all my photos by date/time, i.e. my first digital photo has the following file name: 1997-10-24@10.48.14.jpg. This of course means that all my photos have a unique file name, regardless of where they are moved. They are always sorted in the correct order. Since then I’ve gotten faster cameras, which can take multiple photos each second, which I solved by adding a number after the time, e.g. 2010-02-05@12.33.10-1.jpg