Editor's Note: Take Time
On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford was poised to drive the last spike connecting the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad, creating a rail line that would span the entire United States for the first time. Stanford and his fellow executives felt that the entire country should share in this moment. Railroad employees connected the railroad spike to a telegraph so that when the final blow was struck, a signal would go out to the whole nation at one time.
Stanford missed the spike completely, but the telegraph operator manually pushed the transmit button, according to Michael O’Malley, author of Keeping Watch: A History of Time in America, who told the tale to the hosts of the Backstory podcast.
However, the signal that emanated that day would become a wakeup call. As newspapers reported the event, the official time was drastically different all over the country because there were no standard time zones.
As transit and communications technology marched forward, time zones began to coalesce around railroads because timetables had to be synchronized. Eventually, under pressure from the government, the railroads devised a system of five time zones.
The United States was not alone in these efforts. The entire world was in a frenzy to compete in a great age of technological innovation. Efficiency was paramount and depended on an effective measurement of time, according to Vanessa Ogle, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Global Transformation of Time.
“Fine-tuning schedules and timetables for trains and telegraphs became one of the major preoccupations of nation-states eager to move forward,” Ogle writes in “A Briefer History of Time,” in Foreign Affairs. “But for national times to be rational and efficient, they had to be integrated with other national times, initially those of neighboring states but increasingly of the whole world.”
As 2017 begins, it is difficult to imagine a world without instant communication, which completely removes time as a barrier. ASIS International is dedicating the new year to using communication to better serve members all over the world. Headquarters staff are fine tuning strategies, devising fresh approaches, and developing innovative content. We retired Dynamics, our member newsletter delivered in a PDF format, and will soon roll out a more robust and accessible member communications vehicle. (At this time, subscribers to euroDynamics, Asia-Pacific Dynamics, and Middle East Dynamics will continue to receive monthly e-newsletters.) ASIS will unveil a more user-friendly website and offer even more ways to engage through revitalized chapter and council structures.
Incoming ASIS President Thomas J. Langer, CPP, discusses his vision for the future in an interview on page 36. This vision emphasizes efficient outreach and communication with members in this new great age of innovation.