When does the 21st century start?

posted by Jason Kottke Oct 20, 1998

When the last century turned, the general populace went with 1899 —> 1900 as their official transition and the intellectual establishment went with 1900 —> 1901 as theirs. The establishment won. Almost every turn of the century party was held on december 31, 1900.

As the next century transition looms, the general populace is again backing the 99 —> 00 transition while the establishment is holding fast to the 00 —> 01 switch. Who's going to win this time? The establishment doesn't stand a chance. Why not?

a. Important cultural events are no longer determined by the establishment. Pop culture reigns supreme.

b. 2000 is such a nice, round, even number that people can't resist it.

c. The whole Y2K computer issue lends more weight to 2000 being an important and noteworthy milestone.

d. No one really listens to scientists.

As for me, I won't really be celebrating anything. After all, the year 2000 is based upon some date that a monk chose way back when for the birth of some guy in some podunk town in the middle east. It's no big deal....except for the whole Y2K computer thing. Ask yourself where Jesus is when the world goes dark and the bank says you don't have any money.