Rich Timestamp Sharing in Instant Messaging


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A seemingly-obvious feature that I haven’t seen in any instant messenger yet. I want to be able to share a timestamp in a way that can be computer-understood and presented to the user with a good UX.

For example, I want to say:

Let’s have a call about this at 11:30.

But that “11:30” is actually a rich object that encodes an exact timestamp. If your IM application uses HTML formatting for messages it may look something like this:

<time datetime=2024-07-05T11:30:00-04:00>2024-07-05 at 11:30</time>

The time is machine-readable (with some fallback text). Clients would show the users the time converted to their local time zone! Or maybe a relative time like “in 32 minutes” if they prefer. Maybe they can click it and see that time in their calendar, or see what time that is in different time zones. The possibilities are endless, but the most important thing is that the time is correct, because computers are much better at time math than humans are.

Right now I frequently see people just mention a local time and you need to have their time zone memorized (and know if and where they are travelling). If you are lucky they say something like “11:30 IST”, then you just need to guess if they mean Indian Standard Time or Irish Standard Time. Having a rich “timestamp” object in instant messages would be easier for both the sender and receiver.