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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 04:27, 19 December 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1419 xkcd comics, and only 42 (3%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Watches
Old people used to write obnoxious thinkpieces about how people these days always wear watches and are slaves to the clock, but now they've switched to writing thinkpieces about how kids these days don't appreciate the benefits of an old-fashioned watch. My position is: The word 'thinkpiece' sounds like a word made up by someone who didn't know about the word 'brain'.
Title text: Old people used to write obnoxious thinkpieces about how people these days always wear watches and are slaves to the clock, but now they've switched to writing thinkpieces about how kids these days don't appreciate the benefits of an old-fashioned watch. My position is: The word 'thinkpiece' sounds like a word made up by someone who didn't know about the word 'brain'.

Explanation

This comic coincides with the announcement of a new smart watch by Apple earlier in the week (9th Sept 2014), along with a large emphasis on smartwatches at IFA 2014 (Sept 5-10), particularly 'Android Wear' .

The timeline shows a period approximately from 2005 to 2015 where our wrists were liberated from the tethers of wearing a watch, likely attributed to the fact that many instead used a mobile 'smart' phone to tell the time.

Whilst other smart watches have been released in the past, Randall predicts that the typical widespread interest following Apple product releases (combined with many other new releases by other companies) will result in our wrists again being shackled in the grip of watches from 2015. The wording of the label suggests that Randall is pre-emptively mourning the imminent loss of freedom of his and others' wrists, though may be humorous hyperbole/sarcasm, as his position has generally been of apathy, such as in 1215: Insight.

The title text refers to how 'old people' tend to express derision towards change (generally most widely accepted by 'young people') as not being like it was 'in the good old days', even if this means they contradict themselves. Initial wearing of watches was viewed negatively by the older generation, but now 'not' wearing a watch is instead negative. The second part of the title text starts as if Randall is going to express an opinion on wearing a watch, but then veers off to mock the word 'thinkpiece', due to its (particularly recent) connotation for lacking factual content and expressing biased opinions. For more details on thinkpiece see this article. By equating thinkpiece with brain, Randall is making a reference to the fact that this compound word does not follow the convention of the compound word timepiece, which is a synonym for watch.

Transcript

[A timeline shows the following years but extends further in both direction:]
1990 2000 2010 2020 2030
[A grey box extends from the left border to approximately 2005 and another grey box begins approximately at 2015 and continues to the right border. They are labeled:]
Regular watches
Smart watches
[An arrow points up to the empty period between 2005 and 2015. Below the arrow is written:]
Brief, glorious period in which our wrists were free



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