There is a fair bit of communication talk going around this month. For instance, last week on EngineerBlogs was all about job networking and next week’s eTech magazine will be about electronics communication.
However, I have found a hole in our very own social media networks which is potentially isolating and reducing good quality chat between engineers around the world. I call this the Twitter Timezone Triangle Effect.
A large number of the readers of this blog will be familiar with using Twitter and other social media like facebook. These are a great way of communicating and sharing ideas around the world between engineers. You can post your work for review on your own web site and then post a link to it via Twitter.
For anyone looking at their hits on their web site, they will have noticed that around half of the traffic comes from the USA. If you then look at who is on your twitter time line, again you will notice that most people come from the USA. Now there is nothing wrong with this, just shows where most interest is and where people are hooking up.
The other two big areas you will see traffic originating are Europe and then Australia. It’s the addition of these two areas of the world that forms our triangle. Look at the differences in timezone between each area and they are very similar. Then remember that this triangle is unbalanced as most people are on the USA point.
Having forums and comments on your blog post is a timezone independent method of communication and feedback because it takes days for people to talk and respond. However, twitter is a constant flow of information and when conversations start up, they then flow. I have noticed that for people not in from the start can find it difficult to engage in the chat – why? Possible because they are asleep at the time when it starts.
I have found this effect not only between engineers but also in other groups. The largest affected group is those in Europe and its the sleeping issue that hits them. When it enters USA evening time the Europeans are all asleep. However the Australians are on their way to work so will get some time to respond. I have not only seen this myself but also watching other European engineers on Twitter. We are late in replying and often get missed on the timeline. I’m not saying we get ignored – this is the effect of the Twitter Timezone Triangle. People from each timezone are always late in seeing someone’s posts or replies from other timezones, and if like my timeline you get hundreds of posts a day, then you could miss what people are saying altogether.
So my blog is not only to point out this strange effect but to also post a plea to other engineers around the world all using Social Media. Take time to see what has been posted over night and give people the opportunity to see your posts and together we can neutralize the Twitter Timezone Triangle Effect.