I suspect Atlassian have been talking to someone about human interfaces. We don't think in seconds naturally, and it actually makes it easier to read text if you present minimal information in a human way. If a change was made in the last 90 seconds, humans tend to think "it was made now-ish", and I suspect it's around 2 minutes before we stop thinking of it as "now". Relative times are a lot easier to process as well; "3:16 15/04/2014" is highly accurate, but a human processes "about quarter past three yesterday morning" a lot more easily.
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