Wibbly wobbly timey wimey

Posted: January 15, 2014 in writing life
Tags: , , , , ,

Working mostly through the internet has introduced me to a whole new set of problems around time, ones that are probably going to shape our future. As we enter an era in which men in London write accounts for managers in Hong Kong whose factories are somewhere in the middle of Asia, time starts working differently, professionally speaking. The same goes for leisure. If the new episode of Sherlock shows at eight o’clock GMT in the UK, how quickly do BBC America need to show it before they start losing viewers to torrent sites? (Answer – straight away because that show is awesome.)

The only real way of getting round this

The only real way of getting round this

 

So if it’s Tuesday in Australia…

I’ve noticed two different aspects of this in the past week.

First up is the employer day problem. I’m doing some work for a chap in Australia. Problem is, half the time Australia’s on a different day from me in England, never mind a different time. And Australia’s a big place, so I imagine it’s not all on one time zone. If I say I’ll provide some articles on Tuesday, when do I need to send them to reach his Tuesday? Do they need to go Monday night or sometime in the middle of Tuesday? Do I have until Wednesday morning?

Yes, I could work this out for myself if it was a big issue. But the point is that, for a couple of hours a week, it’s an issue at all.

The other thing is blogging. I read an interesting article (sorry, lost the url) that gave data on the times of day to post blog posts to maximise links (7am) comments (8am) and views (10am). But whose timezone should I be working on here? Should I go by American time, as that’s where the largest number of potential readers for my blog are? Should I go Greenwich Mean Time, as my core readership is built around fellow Brits I know outside of the electronic sphere? What about the people reading me in Australia and Estonia (hi guys!)?

And now for some science fiction

The issues I’ve stumbled across are ones I can work out with some research and a bit of trial and error. But they highlight the fact that our sense of time is no longer as geographically bound as it once was. That has potential for the future, and for social science fiction.

Cory Doctorow beat me to this one by a decade with his novel Eastern Standard Tribe, but there’s still much more to explore. Will we start to align not by daylight but by our professional schedules? Will we one day be split not by Greenwich Mean Time, Dubai Time and East Coast Time, but by Accountant Time, Cleaner Time, Writer Time? Will there be some mishmash of the two? Are there people already living in Britain but on Australian time because that suits their lifestyle? Or on New York Time, Hong Kong Time, Berlin Time?

There’s a character in this, and a story. I haven’t quite come up with either yet, but if you have an idea then maybe share it below. Or go write about it yourself, because everybody should take the time to write.

And has our fractured temporal landscape (note to self – use that in a book) affected you? Let me know how. Share below. I’m curious.

 

Picture by Toenex Lacey via Flickr creative commons.

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Comments
  1. Michelle Mueller says:

    Well, luckily Estonia isn’t so far away from England time-wise. 🙂

    Interesting questions. Since most of my friends / fellow writers are in the States, I tend to chat with them on their time, not my own. I have even kept my computer set for the timezone of my home state and just add +8 hours in my head when I’m trying to work in my time (it’s become quite automatic at this point). You mention working with Australia / China, etc, and in that sense, I find it’s much more difficult to work with time that is ahead of mine than to work with time behind me. If that makes sense.

    • That makes total sense. If I’m working with time that’s ahead of me then working on my Wednesday will definitely get stuff done in time for their Wednesday. If it’s the other way around then days become as issue.

  2. This is different than what you are writing about, but I fractured my own temporal landscape just this past fall when I had a bit of an existential crisis and quit my job in CA and moved home to MN. I am currently very slightly employed but it is pretty much freelance so I have stopped paying attention to the days of the week and I rarely know the date. Also, left to his own devices my husband’s work day would be 12pm to 9pm or later, so mornings are becoming our fun/hangout time and evenings are increasingly being spent working or in my case, trawling the internet for my blog 🙂

    • I went through a similar disruption this year, not moving house but going into home-based freelance work. I suspect that my wife’s nine to five routine is the main thing pinning me to normal daylight hours, for better or for worse!

  3. Was this the article? https://blog.kissmetrics.com/science-of-social-timing-3/. According to this the highest traffic for my blog is Monday, but I haven’t found that to be true at all, have you? Thurs/Fri seems to be the best days for me (I think because at the end of the work week people are more likely to google things like “steampunk octopus”)

    • That’s not the one I saw before, but it’s more detailed and useful so thanks for sharing. More data for ponder…

      Looking at recent weeks I’m not sure that Monday’s necessarily my best day, but out of hte days when I’m blogging Wednesday seems to be the worst. There’s some sort of mid-week dip going on there – maybe people are actually getting on with their work, not easing into the week or winding down for the weekend?

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