In Coming of Age in Second Life Tom Boellstorff notes that it is never possible for two people to be in Second Life together at two different times. That is, even if virtual worlds can overcome differences in physical geographies, they cannot overcome the problem of time.
As an Australian conducting research in Second Life, this point often hits home. Second Life, for the uninitiated, runs on the Pacific Time Zone. This is several hours apart from time as I experience it in Brisbane, Australia. Normally, this is a small inconvenience – one must get up early or go to bed late if one wants to attend events. Nonetheless, when I sign on, I always find someone to speak to.
The problem of time has really hit home recently. I have been trying to buy a parcel of land inworld. Unfortunately, this can only occur through auctions, all of which end at 12PM in Second Life time – which equates to 6am my time. Trying to keep up with the last minute bidding war while rushing around trying to get to work on time has been difficult – I have been trying for almost a week to purchase a parcel of land but still have had no luck.
It is an experience which demonstrates to me the way time in Second Life is intrinsically linked to geographical location in the physical world.