Subjective Time
November 10, 2005

I have online in some capacity or another since at least 1993. At that time I played a MUD (yeah, one of the early online D&D style games) called MUDdog. It was fun ... interacting with people from all over the United States ... and a small handful of folks overseas. (This is going somewhere specific -- hang on.) After that, I joined a couple of email lists and while I missed the instant interaction (and the game), this was also a fun way to intereact with people I would probably have never met. I learned a lot. In fact, a group of us formed "The Banshees" from one of those email lists -- just a group of online friends who emailed constantly. And, in the early days of the web, I made friends with people from South Africa and Wales ... just because they'd been to my website.

Today, of course, the internet crosses a lot more boundaries than back in the days of watching each character come onto the screen as the other person typed it in (and watching the cursor go back a space as that person corrected a typo).

Now with chatrooms, IRC, AIM and other instantaneous multiple connection programs, I meet more and more people from around the world. I regularly talk with folks from Norway, China, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and there are probably more folks that I don't even recall are from other countries.

And I have to wonder this --
Do people who grew up reading science-fiction and fantasy have an easier time dealing with the idea of subjective time?

I mean, I catch myself every morning starting to say "good morning" to everyone on the ShoutBox. But it's not morning for everyone else. In fact, it's at least 5 hours later there for most people than it is for me. Some of them it's more like 10 or 12 hours later ... they're getting ready to go to bed.

I can remember all the SF books I read where the author talked about how subjective time was. How it could be day on the planet, but subjective night on the spaceship ... and the spaceship folks would simply adjust to the planetary time out of courtesy. (Most of the time.)

I find it interesting just how often I call on the SF books I've read over the years to guide my interactions with other people -- and not just in a geek way! :)
It's just that SF has dealt with how we deal with "the other," be that other a new race, a new species or the guy in the next country over and I've seen these authors play out what happens if we're not all respectful of each other (which I do NOT consider the same as not saying what you think).

Quick Survey:
1) How do you deal with the international realm of the internet? Is English your first language?
2) How would you feel if the bulk of the internet was written in Gaeilge or Estonian instead of English? What if the Russians had perfected computers and refined intranets to the point of the internet first?
3) Would more countries be learning Russian or Gaeilge or Estonian?
4) Have you ever read much sci-fi?

Inquiring minds wanna know!!

Posted by Red Monkey at November 10, 2005 5:09 AM | Blog | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Andy Ternay said:

Well, I guess so long as I could find the porn, regardless of language, I'd be okay...

1. English
2. I would adapt to the internet as best I could but probably primarily participate in English speaking forums.
3. Yes.
4. Yes, but you already knew that.

November 10, 2005 6:46 AM


Otto K. said:

1) How do you deal with the international realm of the internet? For when needed, I have a link to Altavista's translate page nearby. Is English your first language? Yes.
2) How would you feel if the bulk of the internet was written in Gaeilge or Estonian instead of English? I honestly would probably stay with mainly English sites (or French). However, I would imagine that were the case, more research in on-demand language translation would be done. What if the Russians had perfected computers and refined intranets to the point of the internet first? I'm not sure that it would have mattered too much. Given that world business and entertainment is very heavily English and that the US is predominent (right or wrong) is so much of culture, I still think that much of the Internet would likely have been English even if the concept had been perfected elsewhere.
3) Would more countries be learning Russian or Gaeilge or Estonian? See #2.
4) Have you ever read much sci-fi? More than I care to admit. :-)

November 10, 2005 6:53 AM

Interesting. I always think of "The Undiscovered Country" when Kirk invites the Klingons over for dinner. The clock over the viewer is based on I am guessing San Francisco time (since this is where Starfleet Command is) but how do the Klingons know? I mean first off, their days and years are of a different length, and the time itself would be meaningless to them.

But would it? Perhaps for a planet to support life so similar to our own, they would have to have similar orbits and even revolutions... So maybe a day would be very similar for different humanoid races.

As for *real* life and time, it is funny. I ebay figures and have to think that if I end my auction at 10 at night for me, it will be midnight on the east coast... or 6 am in England. I am very used to the difference otherwise... It is very fascinating, seeing different people come and go throughout the day. Waking up, going to bed.. and all while I am slaving at work!

November 10, 2005 10:17 AM


Quellas said:

Hi, and thanks for the comment on my blog! I was afraid most people would find what I wrote childish and boring, but it really is a big issue for me.
Ender... That makes me think of Ender's Game. Am reading The Speaker for the Dead now, actually. A friend of mine "forced" the book into my hands, and books are made for reading, so...

Perhaps I should answer your quick survey, too:
1) Babelfish translations are horrible, so I mostly keep to pages written in a language I understand. I might miss something, but as long as I don't know about it, I'll be ok. No, English is not my first language. And my French sucks.
2) If most things on the Internet were written in another language than English, I would probably not spend so much time in front of a computer. If Russians had perfected the computers first, there would not be that many things I understood, if we had not learnt Russian the way we leanr English.
3) Yes, I think so. Russia is big. And close. Norway shares border with Russia.
4) Define "much". I guess not, really. Fantasy tends to have first priority among "free-will books".

November 10, 2005 1:34 PM


RockyJay said:

1) What is definition of "first language"? The language one learned first? What if he/she was bilingual? Or is it the one he/she speaks/writes the most fluently by now? Even though, and especially, after reading my blog it might not be obvious; the answer for this is "yes".
2) I'm fluent in Gaelic and Estonian - among others, so it really wouldn't concern me. What comes to Russians; all those Nazis who did R&D for their nuclear power plants / space ships / WMDs are dead by now, so they could not have invented the Internet, even if it was served them with a Vodka.
3) I'll be honest with you: I don't know how honest I can be with you, but you can't handle the truth!
4) No, not really; can't you tell? I have no imagination whatsoever, I would only point out things that are "not humanly possible". Plus, I can't read that well...

November 12, 2005 9:23 AM
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