I use an atypical date format, as you may have noticed from my blog posts. The standard American date layout is: mm-dd-yyyy. I find this exceedingly obnoxious, and I’m convinced that the big-endian approach I use (yyyy-mm-dd) is the only variety that makes sense. Yes, I also think you’re being silly, Europe.
Europeans have long used the little-endian approach of the dd-mm-yyyy format, which is—to their credit—at least a consistent system. My problem with this approach, though, is that it runs contrary to the way we think of numbers. We don’t write our numbers decimals in front, like writing 19.7 as 7.91; we’re most interested in the largest number, usually. Here’s an analogy: if you have 10,000,004 peaches, your concern is not with the four peaches hanging around at the end (unless you’ve got terrible OCD, at which point your first course of action may be to get rid those extra four to hit an even ten million). Instead, you’re probably wondering something about what to do with the peaches and questioning your investment decisions. In the same way, if I’m thinking back to particular event, I’ll start with the year, then work into finer decimations of time: “I remember back in… 2012 I took heat transfer in the… spring semester and the professor started playing smooth jazz while we were working on a problem in class. It must have been in February and, oh yeah! It was a Friday.” It makes sense that I would also want to write my dates that way, which means the little-endian approach still has its problems.
And that brings us to the big-endian yyyy-mm-dd. The perfect date format. Hungarians use it, apparently, which I didn’t realize until after I started using it, so maybe there’s some argument from a set of a single data point for a genetic basis for date formatting. Regardless, it is still an uncommon format that throws people for a loop but I argue that it makes life that much simpler. For instance, take files that you’re trying to access based on the date you created them rather than the date you last edited them (I often name my files with date prefixes so I know what revision something was). Then, by alphabetical sorting alone, I can find all my files sorted conveniently in order of oldest to newest. If I used the dd-mm-yyyy format, everything would be sorted by day of the month I worked on it, lumping files from 2013 and 2015 right next to each other and that’s rarely the sort of information I need. For your sake, start using the yyyy-mm-dd formatting. You’ll thank me later.