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DATETIME  January 2011

DATETIME January 2011

Subject:

Re: BCE dates; metadata embedded in dates

From:

"Ray Denenberg, Library of Congress" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion of the Developing Date/Time Standards <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 17:15:32 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (75 lines)

From: Stephen Davis
 Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 9:23 PM
> If it is generally agreed in the Western world that the name of a year
> is 31 BCE, then I would argue that the most appropriate normalized form
> of that is
> "-31" or BCE31 (as in John Kunze's TEMPER proposal).   An approach
> based on
> calculation from another date is trying to solve a problem that I don't
> believe exists, in our domain at least.

As Bruce mentioned, the spec simply defers to ISO 8601 on this matter. 

 
> And maybe I'm missing something, but the following sentence from the
> table seems problematic on its face:
> 
> "BC has no year zero. In the BC system the year before year 1 is '1 BC'.
> Thus '-0999' means '1000 BC'."
> 
> Shouldn't that be "-1001" means "1000 BCE" (calculated from 1 BCE)?  

No, I don't think so. The year before 0001 is one less, thus 0000, and the
year before is -0001, and the year before that, -0002, and so on.  

And 0000 is 1 BC (because there is no 0 BC).

Thus -0001 (the year before 0000) is one year before 1 BC, i.e. 2 BC, and so
on, and this generalizes to: 
" -'xxxx' = 'xxxx'+1 BC"  SO -0999 = 1000 BC.

 
> BTW -- I would strongly encourage the use BCE and CE terminology in
> evolving standards documentation rather than BC / AD.

I have added a note at the bottom of the
spec(http://www.loc.gov/standards/datetime/spec.html#bcnote) explaining the
preference for BC over BCE.  I do understand the objection to AD, although
there would be the same controversy with CE as with BCE, but I have simply
elimimated AD from the spec as it really is redundant (in the same sense
that a plus sign is redundant on a positive integer).


> 2) Using extensive "prescribed punctuation" to describe different types
> of dates (curly brackets, square brackets, single quotes, tildes,
> greater than/less than, double slash, and the infamous 'u' of old) is
> not a great way to build a modern standard.  Giving unusual meanings to
> ordinary punctuation is not a substitute for appropriate, schema-driven
> content designation.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by schema-drive content designation but
I sense that you are challenging the basic premise of the work, which is to
develop a simple string format for use with XML, RDF, and similar
serializations, and instead develop a structured date/time format, which
would be very ambitious and which I don't think would meet the needs of the
people participating in this development. 

 
>  ... asking us to write logic that parses things
> like:
> 
> PT03HWI19990612T08:00:00/19990612T18:00:00
> 
> to explain "3 hours within the period between 8am and 6pm on 12 June
> 1999"
> seems over the top. 

But again this is straight ISO 8601, and the philososphy behind adhering to
8601 is that you won't HAVE to write logic to parse this, it will be readily
available.


Thanks for the comments, Stephen.

--Ray

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