As if life on the Internet wasn’t complicated enough…

Apparently Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker, recently proposed a new standard of time for the digital world. Appropriately enough it’s called “Internet Time” and it measures units of time not in seconds, but in “Beats”.

Apparently Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker, has proposed a new standard of time for the digital world. Appropriately enough it’s called “Internet Time” and it measures units of time not in seconds, but in “Beats”. Each day is divided up into 1000 Beats which means your Internet clock strikes High Noon at 500 beats. Swatch has even established the meridian for this system as their headquarters on Jakob-Staempfli Street in Biel, Switzerland.

I have to admit, the idea first struck me as odd and quite contrived on Swatch’s part, but as I read more about it on their site, it dawned on me that this could actually be a cool idea. Swatch may be on to something.

I’ve read heaps of articles about “Online Communities” and how great they are, and how pointless they are. I still haven’t come to a conclusion for myself of whether they are anything but smoke and mirrors, but the concept is nice. Furthermore, it seems to me if an online community is going to work when its members are scattered across the globe, there needs to be some kind of unifying time. For example, what if some important member of a community wants to chat with the masses… They post the chat time on the site in Eastern Standard Time and it’s up to the members to figure out exactly when the chat starts for their area. Wouldn’t it be easier to say “the chat starts at 600 beats, on such and such day?” And how about live webcasts, etc? It would be great if online events were scheduled according to one global time.

Of course, all of this brings up some questions. Do we want the standard to be set by one company who is using this as a marketing tool? Are other watchmakers going to cry “time monopoly” and sue Swatch for creating this? How does Internet Time relate to Greenwich Mean Time… Does it rely on GMT or what? What about days… how are “Internet Days” defined according to this system?

Well, although it’s not directly related to web development it’s a very intriguing idea and if it works, it will probably have an impact on development. We’d love to hear what you think, and if you need more to base your opinions on, check out Swatch’s site: www.swatch.com. You can even download client and server software to work with Internet Time in your development projects.

Gotta go, it’s 720 Internet Time and I’m late for a webcast of my favorite band…

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