Time, in Second Life, can be a tricky thing. Thankfully, there are no time variations within the world itself; “Second Life Time,” everywhere on the Grid, is defined as real-world clock time at Linden Lab headquarters in San Francisco, California, hence equivalent to US Pacific Time (corrected for Daylight Savings during appropriate times of the year). But SL is open 24 hours a day, and has users in every time band. To a large degree, the audience you get at an event is determined by when the event is held.
At The Gin Rummy, our events are pretty US-centric in their timing, being 8-10 PM six nights a week (excepting Wednesdays, as we’ve been burned once too often by updates that have gone awry those days). They were 7-9 PM, but we shifted them an hour to sync up with Chelle’s schedule at Black Diamond, to make it easier for us to work BD events and for her to work GR events. But that means, 22 hours out of the day, the Gin Rummy is basically doing nothing but sitting there and looking impressive. Danielle has come up with an ingenious idea to lessen the downtime: make the GR “ladies only” from noon to 4 PM, bringing in male dancers that will go “The Full Monty.” She may draw a crowd from Europe at those times, if I visualize it correctly.
We’re not the only ones who have to deal with this. The Shelter, for instance, at one point instituted a second edition of its popular Sunday formal balls, for the benefit of European Residents. And other clubs and gaming areas have done much the same thing. (IceDragon’s Playpen, for instance, has 24-hour host coverage for its Slingo and Tringo games.) But the situation is not dissimilar to one described by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash; in looking the Metaverse at a particular time of day, one could easily tell the Japanese from the Americans, as the Japanese avatars were in their business suits (as it was working hours at the time in Japan) and the Americans looked like anything imaginable (as it was decidedly after hours in the U.S.).
Even on a personal level, this affects who we interact with. I’m on Mountain Time (1 hour ahead of SLT) myself, and, during the day, I’m at work; I may not generally be home and ready to rez in until 7:30 (=6:30 SLT) or later, and will generally have to log by 2:00 AM (= 1:00 AM SLT) to sleep. This means I’m decidedly out of phase with people like the esteemed Ms. Malaprop (on GMT or close to it) and Tateru (on Australian time), and I hardly ever see them in-world. Danielle, however, is on Central Time, and it’s much easier to coordinate with her. Same goes for LiLu, who is on Pacific Time.
As we move towards an era of a global Metaverse, we won’t be able to leave our Earthly origins entirely behind. The timing issue is one that will remain with us, and one which we’ll have to keep in mind. But so did the people chatting away on early computer “chat” systems like CBix…and, before them, the radio amateurs making DX calls to other countries. SL just brings this issue, as with many others, to the fore a good deal more.
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” – Ford Prefect