A few days ago I wrote about what I would like to see in photo captions I find on the Web. Among other things, a caption should include the date on which the photo was taken. So, can you tell what this date is: 12/3/10? Americans would say that is December 3rd, 2010. Most Europeans would probably say March 12th, 2010 although I have seen people write like this and mean either March 10th, 2012 or October 3rd, 2012. Not helpful, is it…?
For my photograph captions, I have chosen to use a date format conforming to the ISO 8601 specification. Using this format, just for example, December 3rd, 2010 would look like this: 2010-12-03. Apart from always wanting to express dates the same way, the format has some neat characteristics:
- You can indicate only a year (2010) or year-and-month (2010-12) or the full date.
- Month-before-day should make Americans happy.
- Year, month and day are in “magnitude order” fro larger to smaller (years are “bigger” than months, etc.) which not only makes me happy, but has the interesting quality that dates formatted like this can be alphabetized (“sorted lexicographically”) and they end up in date (“temporal”) order.
I will leave it at that. My $0.02 worth.