Social media are transforming global communication and coordination and provide unprecedented opportunities for studying socio-technical domains. Here we study global dynamical patterns of communication on Twitter across many scales. Underlying the observed patterns is both the diurnal rotation of the Earth, day and night, and the synchrony required for contingency of actions between individuals. We find that urban areas show a cyclic contraction and expansion that resembles heartbeats linked to social rather than natural cycles. Different urban areas have characteristic signatures of daily collective activities. We show that the differences detected are consistent with a new emergent global synchrony that couples behaviour in distant regions across the world. Although local synchrony is the major force that shapes the collective behaviour in cities, a larger-scale synchronization is beginning to occur.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3694468.
- Received December 23, 2016.
- Accepted February 8, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.