The continuing adventures of Dr. Dan Druckermann, post-cyber historian of the twenty-second century.

The passing of time.

Timex.Dr. Druckermann considered his coming class in twentieth century media history. It was scheduled for "this morning." No particular time this morning. Even this morning had no particular meaning; it was an arbitrary designation used by the university's business office to calculate salary. The class was to be held "at the university," but again, the space had no particular meaning.

The everyday concept of time and space in his twenty-second century, Dr. Druckermann reflected, was certainly not what it was in the twentieth. Einstein nearly two hundred years ago had explained the connection between time and space in his general theory of relativity. Most informed Americans who lived in that century had heard of the space-time warp. Maxwell's theory of electricity and magnetism dictated that time and space intertwined. In the late twenty-first century the power of computers had grown to harness both the weak force and the strong force of quarks within baryons. Simple algorithmic calculus made practical the quantum-derived theory of space-time.

It was like the old-fashioned "online class," only unbound by the ancient dictates of time and space. "A Star Trek warp drive for our classes, simply put," as Dr. Druckermann's educational physicist friend explained it.

The North Dakota State University professor recalled a scrap of moldy paper he'd found behind a wall in Minard Hall. He presumed it had blown there during the Great Minard Hall Wall Fall of 2009. When the building was razed for a bicycle lot in 2065, historians had flocked to a trove of actual pieces of paper stuck behind a fire extinguisher--a rare find! Paper had been obsolete for a half century.

"Ross Collins Class Schedule, Spring 2011" the stiff card read. "Design for print, 2-3. Photojournalism 3-4. Office hours 9:30-11 Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Dr. Druckermann couldn't help but chuckle. Such precise times! 2 p.m.--exactly? What was that all about? Why was it so important to come right at that minute?

Dr. Druckermann, as a media history specialist, was one of few historians who really did try to understand the importance of strict "deadlines" a century ago. He had actually toured a wristwatch exhibit on the Library of Congress holomusuem site. In fact, in the twentieth century the finely gauged measure of time was so important that nearly everyone wore these small clocks on their wrists. They consulted them constantly. But a decade into the 2000s, already those wee clocks with wrist straps were becoming obsolete. The generation of students at that time, Generation ZZ Top as they now were nicknamed, had reorganized so much in American society--including the concept of time.

Few of that generation wore these odd "watches," as they were called--perhaps because their elders watched them all the time? Instead they consulted the time using portable telephone devices. These "cell phones" were cumbersome objects people carried wherever they went. The rectangular machines received crude voice or text messages, pretty much serving the same function of the implanted brain message receptors everyone today received at birth.

The objects also indicated the time. But not so quickly as a device attached to a wrist. People had to dig them out of pockets or backpacks. And a lot of people didn't. Why was it so important to acknowledge each passing minute? Or each passing hour?

So the fluidity of time slowly drifted into a realm Dr. Druckermann thought was really almost medieval in concept. Lives of the twenty-second century were no longer ruled by arbitrary divisions of hours, minutes, seconds. That was considered particularly oppressive--who could put up with such detail-oriented control over one's life? Time was measured in experiences of lives lived. Past…present….These had little meaning in a world where computer aps combining past and present in photos of cobblestoned university arcades melding into vistas of glass-lined walkways high above ivory towers--the quotidian of the twenty-second century world.

Lives had little sense of years passing. The compartments of education for youth, jobs for middle age, retirement for old age; that was the thinking of Dr. Druckermann's great-great-grandfather. The human citizen of the present could layer learning, working, leisure, family--the fundamentals of human life--on a matrix. It was as if people's 150-year average life span could be reproduced in an antique sandwich of acetate layers, one translucent sheet atop another. All read together.

In such a life, what meant the concept of a minute? An hour?

Dr. Druckermann still held "classes," but such a thing had no specific meaning. Students seldom actually came into his physical presence. His media history class was like any other: students joined a virtual classroom as was convenient for them. Computer software parsed the seeming randomness of the time-space dimension into an actual "multiverse class." Based on principles of quantum theory students from every possible time and every possible place formed a class with everyone possible in attendance. On their holographic transfixions they could interact by voice or, more commonly, by the electrical impulse of their thoughts transmitted into the multiverse.

"And most of those thoughts remarkably uninformed," snorted Dr. Druckermann. "If only students would take a minute to telepath the text before class."

A "minute?" Dr. Druckermann used the word as a long-dead metaphor. "Chicken with its head cut off," they used to say in 2011, evoking a long-dead metaphor of that brutal time. Today it was an expression, such as "Just a minute," or "I don't have time for this." Just sayings.

Everyone in the twenty-first century had time. They had the past, the present, and the future, fused into a life in which a clock face seemed as antique as a rubber-wheeled automobile.

But "watches" still existed. The hip fad of 2010 had been tattoos and piercings. In 2110 it was antique watches, found in abundance on antique shop holodecks. Most sought-after was a brand loved for its retro name: "Timex."

Lots of students wore them. But no one could, as they used to say in 2010, "tell time."