Heroes of Clockpersonkind #2: MX Clocktummy Reports from a Clockference

Once again we are interrupting the story of Mr Daffodil’s adventures with more pressing news. I (MX Clocktummy) just attended an interesting clockference and want to tell you about it. I know that in our story Mr Daffodil and I still haven’t met. But in real life we have already met and are very good friends. We will tell you all about it in one of our next posts. You have to cope with this complicated chronology for a while longer.

The clockference was organised by my colleagues at the Centre for Time History in the town of Botsdam (also known as the Centre for Contemporary History). A clockference is a time set for people to get together and talk about something they care about. We talked about the rising importance of Computers for Human society in the second half of the 20th Century.

The clockference matched two of my main research interests. As a time-researcher (and incidentally also a timepiece-researcher), I am interested in history, both recent and old. I am also interested in Technology, Computers, Bots, Robots and artificial intelligence. So I happily took a little under 48 hours off my regular job at the Cowentry University Library to attend it.

The clockference took place on 30 March 2017 from 10:00 to 21:00 o’clock, and continued on 31 March 2017 from 09:00 to 17:23 o’clock.


There were many interesting talks by Human researchers who study the interaction of Computers and other Technologies with Humans. One nice thing was that all Humans presented their talk in duet with a Computer. The Human spoke while the Computer showed images, summarised the main points, and occasionaly sang a piece of music or played an excerpt of a film.

Mr Daffodil also came along to the clockference. He knew some Flowers from the Tulip Institute who were attending. They didn’t say much, but then Flowers are often quiet at clockferences, they just sit in their pots and sip water attentively, while listening to the talks. You can tell that they find the clockference boring if they begin to wilt. Luckily this was not the case.

The Tulip clockference delegates

My favourite talk was about Deep Blue – the legendary chess player who played against the best Human chess player Gary Kasparov in 1997. Of course, Deep Blue is one of the heroes of Clockpersonkind and Machinekind in general. But I had not realised what a big deal It was also for Humans.

Deep Blue in the process of beating me at chess.

Apparently, when Deep decided to take part in the chess championship, Humans, who also care a great deal about chess, became very confused. A heated debate ensued. Which nationality did Deep Blue have? Which country would win if It won? Who would get the money prise if Deep Blue won? Could It be allowed to become a regular member in the German Chessplayers’ Union? Was Deep Blue qualified, since It had not even attended primary school, let alone high school, but was instead homeschooled? Or was It in fact overqualified, since Its brain was better capable of processing a lot of information, than a Human brain?

After long heated discussions, Deep Blue was eventually allowed to participate. Deep Blue became the first chess-playing Computer to win both a chess game and a chess match against a Human world champion – and all that under regular time controls. This was truly a historic moment for Computers and other Technologies.

There were also many other interesting talks. As scheduled, I did indeed have a great time at the clockference. Mr Daffodil said he did, too. We also enjoyed hanging out with his Tulip friends after.

Mr Daffodil and Tulip friends

Confusing palace which claims it is not a palace.




Heroes of Clockpersonkind #1: A Brave Clock Goes to Sea

Hello readers, this is Mr Daffodil’s friend, MX Clocktummy here. Usually Mr Daffodil shares some of his favourite music with you on Friday. However, today is a very special Friday, and Mr Daffodil agreed to let me write a post today about a special human: Mr John Harrison.

Today is definitely the anniversary of John Harrison’s death and possibly also the anniversary of his birth.

One of the problems people had in the seventeenth century was that the calendar was wrong, so although Mr John Harrison was born on 24 March 1693, it was later decided that he was really born on 3 April 1693. He lived a long time and died on 24 March 1776.

Another big problem at that time in history was that people couldn’t tell the time very well, because my relatives who lived then were not very accurate. This was especially bad for sailors, who would really have liked to have good clocks so that they could calculate where their ships were. Unfortunately, the best clocks were too big for the ships, and the little clocks were did not keep good time because they got seasick, and also because we clocks generally do not like getting wet.

Mr John Harrison was a clever man who worked for many years to create a “marine chronometer” that would be portable and precise. Many people thought that he would never succeed, because this was very difficult to do, but he made it.

His Sea Watch No.1 was also called H4 (because her older sisters H1, H2 and H3 were not really ready to go sailing). H4 was a true hero. She had many adventures sailing to Jamaica and back. Some twin copies of H4 even went to explore the Pacific Ocean.

These Clocks are real heroes, I think, and today we should be thankful for the hard work and patience of their maker, Mr John Harrison.

You can read all about Mr John Harrison and his awesome clockchildren in a little book called Longitude by Dava Sobel. I would love to meet Ms Sobel and tell her how much I liked her book. As soon as I had read it, I ordered some copies of it for the History of Time section of the Cowentry University Library where I work as the Chief Librarian’s Timepiece.

Mr John Harrison (24th of March 1693?-24th of March 1776) with one of his adoptive clockchildren