My inner autistic feels slightly uneasy about the the disparity between dates and day. For example, The Eagle Lunar Module landed on the moon at just after 8pm EDT, on 20th July 1969, which was a Sunday evening (see Mark’s Livingston’s date-to-day converter). However, I’ll presumably be reading a tweet announcing “the Eagle has landed” late on the evening of Monday 20th July 2009. Sunday nights and Monday nights feel very different.
The BBC screened couple of TV programmes a few years ago, Dateline Jerusalem and Bethlehem Year Zero, that operated on a similar timeshift concept for the Easter and Christmas stories. Not quite real-time, though. It strikes me as a new way to consume other types of art too: perhaps reading the entire oeuvre of a given writer by purchasing their books exactly 40, or 50, or a 100 years after the initial publication. Hansard, the Houses of Parliament archive, would be the perfect resource for an extended “on this day” type feed.
What’s freaky about the Internet, or specifically, the Internet where everyone uses permalinks, is that everything is already pre-archived, ready for this kind of treatment at a moment’s notice. Many is the time when I have accidentally thought that an archived news story is happening at that moment. With TV, film and radio, there are certain giveaways like picture and sound quality, colour balance, or even accents and pronounciation, which date the archived item. In print, the age of the page is easy to discern, by the graphic design style if not by the yellowing of the parchment. Meanwhile, the division of design and content on the Internet means that old text is constantly inserted into modern designs.
I’m not sure which I like best – going back in time to experience the sights and sounds of a forgotten era; or having the old narratives brought forward into a twenty-first century setting. There’s room for both, of course, but different approaches conjour different feelings, and teach us different lessons.