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Human Clock TV tells time with video clips

View the passage of time in a new light with Human Clock TV, a rotating set of videos showing the time in minute-long vignettes that can be funny and fascinating.

Human Clock TV
A bird gets in on the Human Clock video action. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

I could accuse the Human Clock of being a time waster. The original Human Clock has been around since 2001 as a website that simply shows the time in a series of photographs that change every minute. The allure is that you never really know what the next image will be, whether it's the time written on a man's back in marker or a photo of an actual clock displaying the time. It's easy to get engrossed in the slideshow.

The Human Clock has now gotten an upgrade for the modern Internet era with Human Clock TV. The concept is still pretty much the same, but this version consists of a rotating series of videos displaying the time in varying circumstances.

In one 60-second clip, 11:51 is show on a piece of paper near a highway in Washington state. It gets blown away and chased down, a mini-drama that unfolds and keeps you watching, even though you're only supposed to be there to check what time it is. I wait around, watching the time change and eventually end up in Bangkok, Thailand at 12:14, viewing a very different sort of road scene as the time hovers above a traffic jam.

Human Clock TV is like a mashup of a clock and a silent travel show. It somehow makes the passage of time feel more fulfilling, even though I'm just standing around as the seconds drain away. There are over 18 hours of footage for the video version of the Human Clock right now. "Some minutes of the day are incredibly cool and others are downright boring... just like real life!" writes creator Craig Giffen.

The video timekeeper has been under development since 2002, though it was shelved for a while until camera technology improved and the cost of delivering video on the Internet came down. It's taken this long to collect the videos, edit them, and work up some fresh code to make it all function online. As you're watching Human Clock TV, wrapped up in the rotating videos, it's nice to remind yourself that sometimes it takes time to make time.

Human Clock video still
The time shows up in a variety of ways. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET