Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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Dec 98

Internet Time

The year is 1998. The date, December 6 and the time is @671.

Sounds sci-fi-ish? Well, it had to happen. Swatch has introduced the concept of Internet Time. Swatch describes it as a “revolutionary new unit of time” with “beats” instead of seconds, bypassing timezones and geographical borders. It bases the time of day into 1000 beats (metric time!), with one beat lasting exactly 1 minute, 26.4 seconds. The time is denoted with the prefix “@” and is timezone independent. Swatch’s logic behind this seems to be reflected in the quote they have on their page: “Internet Time is not geopolitical, it is global.” Funny how the meridian/standard time for Internet Time is based on Swatch headquarters in Switzerland, with @000 denoting midnight and @500, midday in the Neutrally-orientated nation.

Personally, I think the idea, while not altogether stupid, is just too radical to work. I don’t think time will ever be converted to metric, or a universal measurement (perhaps until we take to the stars, but even in Star Trek they are using 24-hour time :). For one, the current standard of time is too deeply embedded in our sub-conscious for us to really learn Internet Time. What will invariably end up happening, is people equating the Internet Time with a current time (for example, @670 is 2am in Sydney, Australia and so on). The only visible benefit is that there is no hassle in converting between timezones – only converting from Internet Time to local “Real” time, so the chance for error is less – you’re much more familiar with local timezones and daylight savings than you are with another country. How many Aussies know what MST or PST stand for? And what timeshift designation they represent? With Internet Time, you don’t have to specify a timezone at all. Anyway, I predict that this idea will ultimately be widely utilised by geeks. Too bad for Swatch. They are producing a range of watches that tell Real Time, and Internet Time, on the same display.

It’s now @680.