Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Internet Time

We all already know that the great thing about cyberspace is that people can communicate with each other no matter what time zone they are in. Lance Strate says in the chapter, “Cybertime”, “there is a tendency to experience them (e-mails) as if they were being communicated in the present. This sense of immediacy can also be present when reading other people’s electronic discussions in the archives of bulletin boards, listservs, and so on” (379) and then Dery writes that the things the reader is reading is taking place in real time. I can see how email and communicating with other people on the Internet makes communication instantaneous, though when looking back through old bulletins or conversations, wouldn’t that just be similar to looking through documents from, say, a book? They are all archived there for people to look through, I guess because there is still the use of timestamps on them. I suppose it would apply more to interactive activities on the Internet in a virtual world, such as the example Rifkin gives about gamers creating a different sense of time while playing video games.

On another note, I found this statement to be interesting: “I believe that we will eventually find ourselves referring more and more often to Greenwich mean time, global time, or simply Internet time, rather than our regional time, and that new timepieces will be widely adopted that are capable of receiving broadcast time signals, thereby maintaining synchronization with the world clock” (368). Internet time has been around since 1998, though I don’t see much of a difference it is to real time. The way that the day is split up is different—24 hours is split up into 1000 “.beats”, with each .beat measuring to be 1 minute 26.4 seconds. The only thing advantageous about this system that I can see is that it takes away the restraints of time zones; it is still in a way, similar to any other digital clock and uses different measurements, though still within a 24-hour period.

I first saw the use of Internet time on an online art community. Essentially, the reasoning behind this site's use of Internet time was to correspond with the fact that it is an international online community, and thus, should go according to Internet time. Additionally, it takes away any disputes that could occur between art submissions, with questions of who posted what at what time zone and so on, which I guess is pretty helpful in any kind of online community where users can put up submissions. Here's the site, they keep the time up at the top -- GFXArtist


forand said...

Everything from documents and books to blogs and emails are dated and timed in the 24 hour, western time. True, virtual reality is best at suspending real time and being able to immerse yourself in a new world.

Internet time? I don't know, too much of a stretch. The swatch commercial/internet time website didn't work when I tried to click on the hypertext on the main page so..."shot not"(a Paul Lippolis term). These 1000 beats will never catch on and time zones will be used to understand both where and when things were written. My watch is better at measuring minutes than 1 min. 2.64 seconds, so is my cell phone and my world clock on my laptop...so, lets scrap this internet time and just keep an eye on the clock in the bottom right corner of your screen so we don't get "lost in the time and space of the internet".

Lance Strate said...

Excellent point, Fiona. I wrote this chapter back around 1994-95, and I was very gratified to see Swatch actually bring the idea to life.

Whether Swatch time catches on or not is besides the point, something will. Trying to convert between time zones is simply too much of an inconvenience.

Time zones were invented in the 19th century, made possible by the first form of electric telecommunication, the telegraph, and necessitated by the fact that it was otherwise impossible to coordinate the railroads, leading to a number of train accidents.

I do believe that time zones are becoming obsolete now. But it is a bigger leap to do away with the 60 second, 60 minute, 24 hour clock, a system of measurement that has it roots in ancient Babylon.

But then again, the world has gone metric with everything else (outside of the US), why not metric time?