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Lessons from 25.5 Hours of Twitter

August 12, 2008 — By Dr. Pete

lazy catAs many of you know, I recently finished a bit of an experiment called 24 Hours of Twitter. To make a long story short, I rang in 08-08-08 at midnight in every time zone, which required being on Twitter from 7:00am Thursday to 7:00am Friday (US Central Daylight). I started about 6:30am Thursday and also wanted to wish my friends in Chicago a happy 08:08:08am, so I ended up being online for about 25-1/2 hours.

Overall, it was a great experience (other than the realization that I'm getting too old for all-nighters), and I'd like to thank everyone who participated and provided moral support, including my lovely wife but not my cat (captured here on film at 3am "helping" me). After a weekend to reflect on the experience and an impromptu presentation on Twitter at SocialDevCamp Chicago Saturday, I'd like to share a few lessons I learned.

The World Really Is Flat

One of my fascinations with Twitter is that, whenever I'm online, someone in the world is around to talk to. As a blogger, I've had the opportunity to get to know usability specialists in the Netherlands and New Zealand, SEOs in the UK, Australia, and Russia, and many of my "neighbors" across the US, Canada and Central America. As the barriers of time and place start to dissolve, I think we're beginning to see just how arbitrary our borders and boundaries are.

It's Not All Flame Wars

I often get tired of the negative tone online, especially the occasionally vicious attacks against fellow bloggers. It's especially ridiculous when the topics are trivial; I have a PS2, Wii, iPhone and use Windows Vista, and I don't think any of them are worth killing each other over. Given that trend, I was pleasantly surprised by the support I got during this experiment: some people asked "Why?", which is a perfectly valid question, but other than that, everyone cheered me on, expressed genuine curiosity, and helped make sure I was still awake. It's good to remember that we can use the internet as a positive force.

Online Relationships Are Real

We're sometimes quick to point out the shallowness of online relationships, and as a psychologist, I definitely think that understanding the difference is important. On the other hand, over the past year I've begun to see an interesting shift: more and more of my online relationships are materializing in the "real" world. At PubCon last year (a search marketing conference), I was able to finally meet many people I had only known through blogs and forums. As I connect to those same people in other online media, like Twitter, each new venue becomes a networking touch-point. Recently, I've used Twitter to find out someone I knew online would be in town and meet them face-to-face, something I hope to do much more often. I suspect we've only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how our online and offline relationships evolve.

Daylight Savings Is Stupid

Even growing up in farm country and being a fan of sunshine, I'm done with daylight savings time (DST). It's just too complicated, especially here in the Midwestern US, where half of Indiana is on DST and half isn't. Trying to figure out when midnight was in 24 time zones across the northern and southern hemispheres with multiple countries on DST finally was the last nail in the coffin for me. I also hate trying to remember when to set the clocks ahead and back, especially now that everything I own seems to have a clock in it. For the sake of our sanity, let's just pick one and be done with it.