I wrote about this on 12/12/12, but now I found an xkcd comic that captures the whole thing much better:
I didn't know that there was an ISO for what I figured out on my own several years ago, but it makes sense that this was made into an industry standard. For more info, check out the Wikipedia page for ISO 8601.
The hidden text for the comic is just perfect: "ISO 8601 was published on 06/05/88 and most recently amended on 12/01/04." Just perfect.