Facebook announces that it has invented a new unit of time

Facebook launched a new product today: Flicks, a new unit of time. Yes, that’s right. A unit of time, like seconds or minutes or hours. After all, why limit asserting your corporate dominance to social connections, the consumption of the news cycle, and advertising on the internet, when you can define the very flow of time itself?

According the the GitHub page documenting Flicks, a Flick is “the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond,” defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second. (For comparison, a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, making a Flick roughly 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.)

Now, you may be sitting there wondering what was wrong with regular seconds that Facebook had to go and invent its own unit, especially since the second is one of the few units that is universal across SI and imperial units. The name itself is a portmanteau of the phase “frame-tick,” which is also why you might want to use them. Flicks are designed to help measure individual frame duration for video frame rates. So whether your video is 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, you’ll be able to use Flicks to ensure that everything is in sync while still using whole integers (instead of decimals).

Programmers already use built in tools in C++ to manage these sorts of exact frame syncing, especially when it comes to designing visual effects in CGI, but the most exact timing possible in C++ is nanoseconds, which doesn’t divide evenly into most frame rates. The idea to create a new unit of time to solve this problem dates back to last year, when developer Christopher Horvath posted about it on Facebook. I asked The Verge video team if they thought this could actually be useful, and was told that it could be in theory, but that things are up in the air until they can see it in practice.

Hence, Flicks.


My reaction to the headline: Fury. The arrogance!
After reading the article: Hmmm, I think I can use this…

Doesn’t really apply to this article. Facebook isn’t trying to implement a new standard for all use cases; flicks is intended for a very specific use case.

It also doesn’t compete with anything. It allows for clean math using all of the common frame rates.

Flick off facebook, we don’t need another flicking abstraction of time just to help people who don’t flicking know how to author a flicking video properly.

Time is irrelevant – it’s a human construct and has no meaning. There is only now. Time only exists because of memory. No memory; no past, no future. Only now.

I think what you mean is that, without human memory, there would be no one to mark the passage of time. But time itself is real. If anything in the universe changes, then time has occurred. At most, we are guilty of assigning arbitrary measurements to the passage of time, although you could dispute that they are arbitrary.

Time is an illusion; Lunchtime doubly so.

The name itself is a portmanteau of the phase "frame-tick," which is also why you might want to use them.

Question for you supreme grammar nazis – is this really a portmanteau if the letter "L" is added into it? My understanding was that you are supposed to truncate parts of the stem words but not add letters into the mix. I’m fine being wrong, just curious.

You’re correct. It really should be "frick" or "frack".

reminds me of "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers"

The Japanese got u covered, fam.

Also a tap house in my city http://www.frickandfrack.ca

Neat, many software libraries use runtime fraction arithmetics to handle frame times (example). Using a duration based on the standard std::chrono::duration C++ template is also cool.

Oh my. Now that’s a throwback!

net flicks and chill

Remember Swatch Beat? Anyone?

I member!

I still have a beat clock on a Windows 7 pc somewhere.

the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond

Seeing that there are an infinite number of values between 1/10^9 and 1.41723356, Chaim Gartenberg needs to go back to what Americans call 6th grade and re-learn decimals.

The smallest unit without decimal. Context is your friend.

Values aren’t units.

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