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.
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 their eyeballs open 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 chart catches on, we’ll start saying, “Time to tweet.”
[Image: Flickr user me and the Sysop]