.COMmentary: What time is it on the Internet?

.COMmentary: What time is it on the Internet?

By Mike Lotz

What time is it on the Internet?

By Mike Lotz

Internet Time was developed by Switzerland’s Swatch AG, in response to what it’s leader, Nick Hayek, Jr., saw as an Internet problem: Twenty-four time zones made it difficult to say something takes place at one instant. His solution? Take the current 24-hour day, divide it into 1000 ‘beats’, or one minute and 26.4 seconds per beat. Then move the reference point for the beginning of the day from Greenwich, England (time’s home since 1884) to Swatch’s headquarters in Beil, Switzerland.

Will this become a standard? Swedish telecom-equipment maker, Ericsson, hopes the times are changing. It put Internet Time as a feature on its new phone, the T20, and hopes it will appeal to young people around the globe. “Internet Time makes it easier to keep track of appointments with people in different time zones,” said Peter Bodor, press spokesman for Ericsson. “It’s fun for young people who have friends all over the world.”

Other companies are changing their clocks to Internet Time: CNN.com shows Internet Time on its web page; Apple website offers a free download to translate between Internet Time and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Sega uses the system to coordinate online games and chats through its Dreamcast system.

Swatch hopes its new definition of time can catch on with Web users. On October 28, 1998, Swatch unveiled the first Internet Time products. Swatch has sold more than one million watches with Internet Time. A converter between Internet and regular time has been downloaded four million times from its website.

I don’t think Internet Time has a chance of wiping GMT off the books. Internet Time is mostly a marketing ploy. Greenwich Mean Time is so heavily embedded in what we do: laws of countries, and aviation and international communications standards, I can’t see anything coming along that’s going to change this.

Is figuring out time zones really that difficult? Calculating time zone differences is easier than adding up the minutes in a day and dividing by 1000.

Here is a quick test: 790 Internet Time equals what in Central Standard Time?

Step#1: 790 x 86.4 seconds (1 beat) = 68256 seconds

Step#2: 68256 / 60 seconds = 1137.6 minutes

Step#3: 1137.6 / 60 minutes = 18.96 hours

Step#4: 18 hours = 6:00 p.m., .96 x 60 = 58 minutes

Step#5: 6:00 + :58 = 6:58 p.m. Swedish Time

Step#6: 6:58 p.m. – 7 hours (Sweden is 7 hours ahead) = 11:58 a.m. CST

Isn’t that more simple than taking the time and adding and subtracting one hour for each time zone that’s in between the two separate locations?

Oh, I gotta go! It’s almost 167 Internet Time, time to watch E.R.!!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at questions@iwebwerks.com

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