One day on the internet is enough

Team Members

Erik Borra, Taina Bucher, Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond, Esther Weltevrede


This project aims to contribute to thinking about temporality or pace online by focusing on the notion of spheres and distinct media spaces. Pace isn’t the most important question, respect for the objects and the relation between objects and pace per sphere are also of interest in this study. Both in terms of how the engines and platforms handle freshness, as well as currency objects that are used by the engines and platforms to organize content. Moving beyond a more general conclusion that there are multiple presents or a multiplicity of time on the internet, we can try to start specifying how paces are different, and overlap, empirically. The aim is to specify paces and to investigate the relation between freshness and relevance per media space. The assumption is that freshness and relevance create different paces and that the pace within each sphere and plattform is internally different and multiple in itself.

Research question

What is the pace of different spheres and social media spaces? One way to start thinking of 'pace' online is in terms of the upload frequencies. How can these paces be characterized? What is the relation between relevance and pace? And, what does the pace of a media space do to the pace of an issue? How relevant is freshness?


The issue under analysis is the 2010 Pakistan floods.

  1. We selected 8 spheres and social media spaces:,,,,,,,
  2. For each of these media spaces, the queries are designed to fit the platform or engine. Content is organized and ranked differently per platform. Search engines return results for a query while micro-blogging platforms organize content around hash tags, keywords/tags prefixed by a hash sign, that are used for searching. Devices and platforms have dominant or preferred queries: e.g. in Google the query Pakistan Floods 2010 was recommended by the engine whilst in Twitter users decided on #pakistan as the most dominant hash tag (based on a comparative analysis between #pakistan, #pkflood, #pkrelief, !#pkfloods and !#helpPakistan, using the What the Hashtag?! service. Facebook is a special case since it is a platform that is not dominated by search, but rather by pages and groups as organizing mechanisms. We selected the top group and top page related to the 2010 Pakistan Floods. Facebook however, does have a search option and we also queried Facebook Search for Pakistan flood in Posts by Everyone, which returns mentions of Pakistan flood in All Post Types (Links, Status Updates and Wall Posts, Notes) by everyone.
  3. Most devices offer a (default) result page, which is ordered by relevance and a specific order by date search option. In first instance, pace online is thought of in terms of update frequencies. In other words, what is the speed of fresh content that is being uploaded and added to the index of the respective devices? In terms of the relation between objects and paces, the relation between relevance and time is of interest. For the devices that offer both a search by relevance and a search by date we included both (e.g. Google, Google News, Google Blogs, YouTube, Flickr).
  4. The selected search options of the devices and specified queries are collected by means of urls:
  5. Wikipedia:


    Pakistan Floods 2010




    Pakistan Floods 2010

    Relevant (default):

    Recent (Sort by Upload date):

    Google News

    Pakistan Floods 2010


    Sort by date:

    Google Blogs

    Pakistan Floods 2010


    Sort by date:

    Google Web

    Pakistan Floods 2010




    GENERAL - Query: Pakistan Flood - Posts by Everyone -

    GROUP - 3275 members Pakistan Flood 2010

    PAGES - 2212 members Flood in Pakistan -

    From the group we would like the changing number of Members, Photos, Videos, Links

    From the pages we would like the changing number of People Like This, Photos, Videos, Links



  6. From each of these urls, the content of the page is saved on a local computer with an interval of 5 minutes.
  7. Calculate the number of new updates or new results within the relavance setting for each interval and each platform/sphere.



Issues and Limitations

The main limitation is that changes cannot be recorded in real time but have to be studied according to the Intervals, which imposes an external metric on the pace of spheres and platforms.

Moreover, although the internal difference and intensity of pace can be studied, time is presented as chronological and linear. To which extend the pace is based on a more complex, non-linear concept of time, in which particular activities are taken up at a later pointin time or have delayed effects.

Because every platform has a different amount of objects (i.e. tweets, pictures, videos, URLs etc.) that may potentially change by each time interval studied, the amount of change (the possibility of things changing) will vary greatly from platform to platform. This poses some limitations as to comparing the different platforms (e.g. in Flickr potentially 20 objects on the front page may change whereas on Google 100 may potentially change).

Not merely different amount of digital object displayed on each platform’s frontpage pose a difficulty to comparison and analysis, but also the actual amounts of new updates per interval studied. While significantly more changes will have occurred in Twitter than the amount of people that have joined a Facebook group in the same time interval, the question then becomes how to normalize the numbers or whether to operate with absolute numbers in visualizing the data.





Sleeping time Twitter and Facebook:

Sleeping time Twitter and Facebook ++:
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Artwork-1.jpgjpg Artwork-1.jpg manage 80 K 20 Aug 2010 - 13:45 AnneHelmond Sleeping time Twitter and Facebook
DMI_summerschool_paceonline-classics.jpgjpg DMI_summerschool_paceonline-classics.jpg manage 282 K 20 Aug 2010 - 13:49 AnneHelmond  
DMI_summerschool_paceonline-pakistanfloods.jpgjpg DMI_summerschool_paceonline-pakistanfloods.jpg manage 274 K 20 Aug 2010 - 13:49 AnneHelmond  
DMI_summerschool_paceonline-template_anne.aiai manage 433 K 09 Sep 2010 - 10:15 AnneHelmond  
one_day_is_enough___analysis-2.jpgjpg one_day_is_enough___analysis-2.jpg manage 358 K 20 Aug 2010 - 13:43 AnneHelmond  
sleepingtime.jpgjpg sleepingtime.jpg manage 116 K 20 Aug 2010 - 13:43 AnneHelmond Sleeping time Twitter and Facebook
summerschool_pace.pdfpdf summerschool_pace.pdf manage 1 MB 08 Sep 2010 - 14:34 AnneHelmond  
svg.zipzip manage 136 K 09 Sep 2010 - 10:16 AnneHelmond  
twitter_facebook.aiai manage 1 MB 08 Sep 2010 - 14:36 AnneHelmond  
Topic revision: r10 - 04 Oct 2010, EstherWeltevrede
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