Infographic Of The Day: What Time Is The Internet The Most Awake?

Bård Edlund shares with us a nifty little experiment in showing the rolling periods of wakefulness around the world. So when's the best time to tweet something?

Answer: 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. That’s when the largest number of people in the world are likely awake (and on their computers), according to designer Bård Edlund. How he arrived at that conclusion is in many ways more intriguing than the conclusion itself.

Edlund created a world clock, which animates the probability that the Internet is awake or asleep in 25 countries at any given moment of the day. Time stretches along the X-axis and is represented by shades of gray; the darker the gray the later the hour. Countries, represented as moon-like circles, fill the Y-axis. The larger the moon, the more people in the country with broadband subscriptions ("a decent measure of the most ‘important’ countries in the digital age," Edlund tells us). At the top of the animation, a clock keeps track of the exact hour.


[Click to view interactive version]

As time passes, the moons move back and forth across the chart, drifting in and out of darkness and revealing the probable sleep patterns of broadband subscribers. So when the majority of the moons lines up in daylight, chances are that your tweets will have the biggest captive audience. Conversely, when the moons line up in darkness—sometime between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. EST—you might as well wait till morning to share your brilliance with the rest of the world.

Obviously, the chart is only an approximate guide. Just because people with broadband subscriptions might have open eyelids at 3 p.m. doesn’t mean necessarily that they’re reading your tweets—or even that they’re online. But Edlund is trying to make a broader point about how we perceive time. "I’ve seen some world clock tools that tell you what time it is anywhere in the world, but I was interested in trying to do something that kind of abstracts the notion of time a bit, the way we do when we talk/think about it," Edlund tells Co.Design in an email. It’s true. We never say 9:01:45. We say "morning." And maybe if Edlund’s clock catches on, we’ll start saying, "Time to tweet."

[Image: Flickr user me and the Sysop]

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26 Comments

  • Jaguar

    It should have been broken down by time zone. Also, the darker it is means the less active the internet is?

  • Davidsfotos

    Great, but what I want to know is the opposite, when are most people off so the servers have a lighter load & could run faster? vvvvv.Davidsfotos . com

  • Scott Bartell

    Nice graphic. It would be even more useful if you could break it down by social network e.g. facebook or twitter.

  • Oddside

    I don't understand the design of this whole thing:
    a) Why the "world clock"? He's simply looking from the U.S. East Coast at what local time users how many users in what countries are online, doesn't he? What tells that about when users are "awake" or not? If he would like to see at what local time users in each country are most active, he should take their local time to measure, now shouldn't he?
    b) The "moons"? Aren't they supposed to change in shape as the amount of users in each country increases and decreases?
    c) The "vertical axis"? Doesn't it just represent the reported overall amount of internet users in each country and as such is irrelevant to the whole study?
    Enlighten me, please - even if it is in "moonspeak".

  • Rjreneeintexas

    I love this.  I think it's way beyond the box that we think of as time.  I would buy something like this because I can also appreciate it as art.   I'm not sure that one can fit it in to a 1,2,3,4  analysis.  It's got much more depth than that.

  • Silicon Cowboy

    Interesting thought experiment, great graphic, thanks Bård Edlund.

    Don't know how well it maps into reality =
    1) Recent articles show more smart phone sales vs Desktops, and don't most people tweet from their phones?
    2) A lot of folks have given up their Land-Line (including "broadband subscriptions"). Have moved to cell phones (smart, or not).
    3) Looks like assumption is everyone works Monday - Friday, 9 - 5. Creative types like Programmers (often heavy on net use), Artists, and even those in Retail, and others - don't keep those hours. One place I worked ran 24/7 - a manager said "this train never stops".
    4) Many are not allowed to use phones or personal e-mail at work, but once that whistle blows - they party all night, and tweet friends.
    5) Just because someone has fast broadband, does not mean they are a "power user". I've seen some that check their e-mail 2x/day, and check their "net worth" - then go out into the real world. Also seen those w/ slower broadband, pounding the keyboard up to 12 hours each day - w/ 6+ windows, tabs open.

    But, as sivenso commented - it meshes well w/ his Google Analytics.

  • Bellagirl

    I never really thought of maximum-minimum  internet usage like this. If you back out time spent on Facebook, games and other mindless activites the whole damn thing probably goes black. 

  • Batami

    May not be perfect but it is very interesting all the same.  Look at China !  and where is Singapore?    I am sure it will get a few more iterations.. making it even more powerful.  Thanks for the effort......  

  • Eddie

    Would be even more interesting if they accounted for active individual users in each country during that respective time of day.
    IE the moon grows and shrinks throughout the day to indicate highest utilization time lines/peaks.

  • Shit

    What is EST? This is the 21st century,  please use UTC notation so that other people in the world know what the hell you're on about.