Monday, 06 January 2020 13:58

Welcome to the 2020s! Featured

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COMMENT The new decade is here. The Twenty-Teens are behind us, and the Twenty-Twenties have begun.

Some people, such as my colleague Sam Varghese, say that the decade has another year to go, because there was no year zero. While this is mathematically correct, humans do not work this way. This view places pedantry ahead of common sense, rarely a defensible position.

We did not celebrate the changing of the millennium at the end of the year 2000, but at the beginning. It’s when the clock ticks over that makes the difference. That’s how our minds work. We talk of the 1960s and the 1980s, which included 1960 and 1980, not artificial constructs that make 1990 the last year of the decade that began in 1981.

That’s the problem with the spurious argument of the killjoys who say the decade has another year to run. The dates we humans impose on the continuum we call time are completely artificial. They are arbitrary. In truth, every day is the start of a new decade, or a new century, or a new millennium. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life.

When old Dionysius Exiguus invented the new Christian calendar 1500 years ago he omitted the year zero, which the Buddhists and Hindus included (they invented our numbering system, after all). He went straight from 1BC to 1AD, a mathematically dubious progression. To continue his error today is a ridiculous and pointless exercise.

I must admit I was once in the "decade doesn’t end till next year" brigade, until I realised how silly the argument is. It flies in the face of common sense and common usage. Some people even say that to state we are in a new decade is stupid, or even a lie. It is not. I wonder just where the stupidity is.

The 2020s have begun. Let the calendarists and obscurantists and nitpickers who deny this simple fact wait around till the end of the year to celebrate, well, nothing at all really. They can all get together in a darkened room somewhere and delight in their irrelevant rectitude while we all do something more useful and more fun.

Those of us who live in the real world are in a fresh new decade. May it be a better one than the one that has just ended. Long live the 2020s (well, for 10 years, anyway).

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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