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The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities
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The Invisible Hands of Time: How Timezones Shape Online Communities

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A popular view of online communities is that they transcend time and place. As threads and comments are posted, however, the ensuing online-discussions unfold over time. Not only does timing determine …

A popular view of online communities is that they transcend time and place. As threads and comments are posted, however, the ensuing online-discussions unfold over time. Not only does timing determine which threads participants will see first when they arrive, but also which comments have not already been extensively replied to.

By affecting who interacts with whom during the circadian cycle, time-pressure at the level of threads could in turn shape the social ties that form. Coupled with time-zone differences, this would make online communities a lot less global than generally believed.

A case-study of the Hacker News community was conducted to measure time-effects. Hacker News caters to people interested in web-startups. It has approximately 100,000 unique daily visitors from all over the world, and receives about 2,500 posts per day. Fourty days of data was collected, and geo-locations were acquired for three thousand users.

In a preliminary analysis, strong time-pressure effects were found at the thread-level. For social ties between users, moderate, but statistically significant effects were found as well; especially for users at the edge of the network. Even the two-week gap between the introduction of daylight savings time in the US and UK, was found to have an impact on peoples network distance during that time.

These findings might limit the validity of purely social interpretations of on-line reply structures, as well as the extent to which (large) on-line communities can be considered real communities, rather than imagined communities that are primarily shaped by the flow of conversation.

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  • 1. The InvisibleHands of Time:How Timezones ShapeOn-line CommunitiesWybo WiersmaOxford Internet Institutemail@wybowiersma.net23 May 2013
  • 2. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesIntroductionIn this talk I:• Will catch time red-handed• At impacting the structure an on-line communitynamely; Hacker News• Time sets the stage for interactionYour speaker:• 1st year DPhil studentat the Oxford Internet Institute• Sr. Software engineer in Sillicon Valley last year
  • 3. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesHypotheses
  • 4. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesHypotheses: Why careSocial interpretations of reply-structures• Are common in SNAreciprocity, bonding, friendshipUnderlying assumptions:• On-line communitieswork similarly to off-line ones• On-line Global Villageis actually globalYet if time foremostly determines replies• Social explanations might be spurious
  • 5. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesHypotheses: Previous workPapers on reply-structures• None circadian, none on 24-hour scaleMore remotely relevant• How threads unfold on Slashdot (Kaltenbrunner)• Usenet discussions unfold over multiple days• Cycles in MUDs/Internet/mobile traffic
  • 6. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesHypotheses: TheorySocial mechanisms (Elster, Hedstrom)• Look at individual interactionsmicro to macro emergenceStructuration theory (Giddens)• Environment affords/shapes choicesbesides, and through agencyImagined communities (Anderson)• On-line communities like nation statesnot based on personal social ties
  • 7. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesHypotheses: Why careHypothesis 1)• There is a time-pressure effect at level of threadsusers mainly reply to new threads/poststhreads are mostly saturated within a few hoursHypothesis 2)• What appears social in reply-structuresis dictated by the thread time-pressure effectand peoples different circadian rythms
  • 8. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads
  • 9. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Hacker NewsHacker News is like Slashdot• Can comment on storiesbut posted by members• Rating / time determines ranking(r − 1)/(t + 2)1.8separates time effects from ordering• 100k daily visitors (large)• Ran by Paul Graham (Y-combinator incubator)for startup communityvery international
  • 10. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: A specimen
  • 11. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: User locations
  • 12. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: DataData collected• Over 40 days (in 2011)3.5k threads100k postsby 13.3k usersSo 90 threads, 2.5k posts per day
  • 13. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Created per hour
  • 14. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Time pressure effectsTime pressure effect• Threads created in timediscussions unfold over time• People arrive at different timesnew threads seen firstduplicate replies not appreciatedearly replies read more• Thus new threads (most productively) replied toTime determines which threads people reply to• Thus whose posts they interact with
  • 15. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Posts hours after prompt created
  • 16. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Replies clock
  • 17. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks
  • 18. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: The social fabricTime-pressure effects• Confirmed at thread levelmost replies are to new threadsSocial interpretation of reply-networks• Largely spurious if time determineswho people maintain ties withOn-line communities• Would be largely imagined communities
  • 19. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: TypesReply-networks• Wholeunidirectional replies sufficient• Corereciprocated replies (cutoff > 3)Colouring• 3-hour sliding windowsin which user posts most• 8:00 - 11:00,9:00 - 12:00, etc• Same colouring as replies clock
  • 20. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: Whole
  • 21. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: Core (both > 3)
  • 22. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: Core directed (any > 6)
  • 23. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesNetworks: Clocks core (> 5) vs periphery (< 6)
  • 24. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesThreads: Prolific users aligned by timezone
  • 25. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesStatistics: Numbers don’t lie
  • 26. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesStatistics: Permutation testTested fraction of ties that showed:• Reciprocity• Transitivity (triadic closure)24 one-hour windows over 40 days:• Base-casenetworks for same window every day• 10k permutationsdifferent random window every day
  • 27. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesStatistics: Permutation testReciprocity in 24 same 0.113 - 0.148• For random windowsaverage 0.087 (never larger, p 0.000)Transitivity in 24 same 0.016 - 0.025• For random windowsaverage 0.014 (41/10k larger, p 0.004)Very significant time-effects
  • 28. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesStatistics: Least squares distanceMedian circadian time-difference• Between postsper network-distance10 minutes per hop (1 to 4 hops)• in core (> 3 reciprocated)30 minutes per hop (4 hops)• in periphery (< 6 posts)
  • 29. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesStatistics: Daylight savings timeDaylight savings time is introduced• In a phased manner between the UK and US• US (13th of March) two weeks earlier than UK (27th)US West Coast and UK users compared• Distance smaller after US DST introducedand larger again after UK DST• 8 Hour-difference reduced to 7 for two weeks3.65 to 3.53 (0.12 hop distance)Small, but highly significant difference
  • 30. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesConclusion: Time’s up
  • 31. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesConclusionTime-pressure effects• Confirmed at thread levelmost replies are to new threadsTime effects on network• Very significant (but small) effects• Stronger at periphery than at corecore users on-line 20/7, bridgeHands of time set the stageLimits:• Measures/statistics• Different for different communities
  • 32. The InvisibleHands of Time:How TimezonesShape On-lineCommunitiesWybo WiersmaIntroductionHypothesesThreadsNetworksStatisticsConclusionQuestionsReferencesQuestionsAny questions ?
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