Facebook’s decision to invent a unit of time to suit its needs may sound obnoxious and audacious. That, though, is how time works—and how it has always worked. Time as we think of it isn’t innate to the natural world; it’s a manmade construct intended to describe, monitor, and control industry and individual production. The number of flicks in a frame rate is no less objectively “real” than the number of seconds in a minute or hours in a day; all units of time are arbitrary inventions used for industrial means.
The industrial revolution in the 19th century bought the technology for far more precise clocks and, with them, heightened attention to the hourly work schedule. Employers started to carefully track work attendance, with timestamps marking employees’ arrival and departure every day. Meanwhile, companies also began to adopt principles of scientific management (often called “Taylorism” after its founder, Frederick Winslow Taylor), in order to try to increase production. In this system, workers’ individual movements were carefully monitored, timed with a stopwatch, and then streamlined into a precise, machine-like production line. “There were people looking over workers’ shoulders and measuring how long each element of the task [took],” says Levine. Each movement was then modified to maximize efficiencyTime is a human invention that controls how we work | Quartz