Tyranny of the Moment deals with some of the most perplexing paradoxes of this new information age. Who would have expected that apparently time-saving technology results in time being scarcer than ever? And has this seemingly limitless access to information led to confusion rather than enlightenment? Eriksen argues that slow time — private periods where we are able to think and correspond without interruption — is now one of the most precious resources we have. It is not only that working hours have become longer — Eriksen also shows how the logic of this new information technology has permeated every area of our lives. Exploring phenomena such as the internet, wap telephones, multi- channel television and email, Eriksen examines this non-linear and fragmented way of communicating to reveal how it affects working conditions in the economy, changes in family life and, ultimately, personal identity.

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Cumulative, linear, organic growth Real experiences. What matters is not whether any of this is new, what matters is the fact that our age is the information age. What is the relationship between technology, time and culture?

You have to understand this by looking at the recent past… which is where we go back to in chapter 3… Chapter Three — The Time of the book, the clock and money. Skimread Acceleration is at the heart of the last years of cultural history — Writing lasted years, the printing press , while radio only had a few decades of dominance before the TV. Today, it is feasible that a product can be obsolete before it hits the shelves. He now apologies for making some general comparisons of the traditional, the modern era and the information era…..

The emergence of Clock Time — Time used to be event-determined — Something would happen when everything else was ready — You find this in some traditional societies today — where trains arrive when they arrive, not at a pre-given time. With the invention of the calendar and especially the clock, time becomes external and something which we are expected to sign a contract to stick to from cradle to grave — It becomes something objective which can be chopped up.

It also now becomes something which can be used to coordinate us — the basis of modern business. Money does roughly the same thing to payment, value measurement and exchange as clocks and writing do to language and time. They make the transaction abstract and impose a standardised grid on the whole world. They place individual, mundane transactions under an invisible umbrella of abstraction.

Money renders personal connections and trust redundant, as long as we agree on the value of the digit. Musical Notation is his final example — manuscripts make music abstract, separate them from the individual. He argues that classical music would not have been possible without musical notation. All of these changes together lead to a small-scale society based on local knowledge to a large scale society based on an abstract legislative system and abstract knowledge founded in logic and science.

The printing press and the industrial revolution were also necessary to pull all of the above together in modernity — a society where external abstract systems regulate huge people into being part of of one machine in which they are expendable. Linear time is not part of the problem… In addition to all of the above, possible because all of the above, a key feature of modernity was faith in progress — that things were getting better — however, now we are living in a postmodern age.

People think things are about to go horribly wrong. This is not caused by linear time, but by a time perception which is not sufficiently linear. Time has been partitioned into so many pieces that the only time in existence is a single, manic, hysterical moment which is continuously changed, but which does not point to anything other than the next moment. This could well be an unintended consequence of the efficient society concerned with speed. Chapter Four — Speed and the consequences of time speeding up!

The chapter starts off by drawing on Paul Virilio, a theorist of speed dromology Virilio studies the military — pointing out that invading a country used to take another country months to organise, then weeks and now possibly minutes — even more rapidly if we include the potential of cyber-war. Time dominates place, everyone is close by in an instant. The chapter now goes into an interesting description of how acceleration took place in the industrial revolution which was caused by the IR and new productivity demands in commodity production.

This acceleration was aided in the second half of the twenty first century by Information Technology — IT is simultaneously catalyst, source of coveted goods and economic powerhouse. There are eight consequences of acceleration which are unique to post-modernity: One — Speed is an addictive drug… Because it is easier to communicate today, we communicate more — previously, the labour in writing a letter precluded the writing of unnecessary letters, emails are easier to write, and we we can be contacted anywhere, so we send more emails.

Also, we are now more impatient in waiting for a response. In the age of email, we now expect, demand, a rapid response to our communications — Because we demand a rapid response, this interrupts slow time. It is not just email, everything moves faster now. Two — Speed leads to simplification… For example paintings to photos, and summaries of books in Readers Digest actually the reference to Readers Digest dates this a bit! Three — Speed creates assembly line effects…. Quite a weak section — speed leads to a reduction in quality generally, but sometimes fast products are OK and especially better than nothing!

Four — Speed leads to a loss of precision… Today decisions have to be made almost immediately. Those who pause for thought are overtaken by those prepared to act immediately. This can lead to bad decisions and uncertainty — unsurprising maybe when we no longer stop to reflect.

In politics, politicians react immediately and short termism is in fashion — those who play the long game get nowhere the greens? While in financial markets, ripples in one country rapidly domino to others. What matters is beating the other guys to getting something published. Five — Speed Demands Space… Because they complete over our attention, every spare moment is precious in the information age — There are less empty spaces, less time for the free flow of thought, messages on mobile technologies fill every gap.

We also speed up…. Plays are faster… A political scientist recently studied the development of the annual financial debate in the Norwegian Parliament, comparing the speed of speech in selected years from to — Looking at Phonemes per minute… in in In other worlds the average politician spoke 50 percent faster in compared to Increasing speed also makes us more impatient — If a plane journey takes an hour, a delay of 15 minutes is less bearable than if the same journey took two hours.

Similarly we are now impatient when it takes a computer 30 seconds to log on. Seven — Gains and losses tend to equal each other out… For example — Although computer processor power doubles every 18 months, so does the complexity of the software.

Worse, more complex software means more chances of crashing. Also it means more choice, and more time spent negotiating these choices, and hence less efficiency. Eight — Technology leads to unpredictable changes Who could have thought that time saving technologies and more information could have made time scarcer and us less enlightened?

Chapter Five — Exponential Growth Basically involves the doubling of a number over a certain time period — Growth is slow at first, and then there is a sudden leap upwards, leading to a qualitative shift in a very short time — for example when a village becomes a town. Exponential growth creates scarcity of space… There is now a dearth of information — and when there is more information, we spend less time looking at any one piece of it…. And thus the producers of info change the info to fit in with this — Movies are more action packed and commercials shorter for example.

Speed is also a narcotic, it is easier to speed up the info rather than to slow it down. Basically larger organisations are less efficient, and more time is spent in wasteful activities.

There is more of everything — he now spends some time outlining the rapid growth of books and journal articles most of which are never read? Before stating that the growth rates in cyberspace surpass everything p97 Changes in cyerbspace represent compression in time — more and more information, consumption, movement and activity is being pushed into the available time, which is relatively constant.

When the growth line hits vertical, time has ceased to exist — this happens when news is outdated the moment it is published. When more and more is squeezed into each moment, the result is stacking… Chapter Six — Stacking We have moved from the relatively slow and linear to the fast and momentary — novels and old style dramas evolved based on passed events and assume you read progressively.

The internet and new style dramas Dynasty stand still at enormous speed — the web is not hierachical and new dramas despite the cliffhangers do not generally progress — you can pick up the narrative thread after being away for several episodes. The most important part of navigating the web is filters, but filters do not remove the fragmentation.

We are forced to customise the content in the internet — this gives us freedom of choice but we lose internal cohesion, meaningful context and slowness. In the Informational Society pieces replace totalities… Industrial society.


Tyranny of the Moment: Fast and Slow Time in the Information Age

Cumulative, linear, organic growth Real experiences. What matters is not whether any of this is new, what matters is the fact that our age is the information age. What is the relationship between technology, time and culture? You have to understand this by looking at the recent past… which is where we go back to in chapter 3… Chapter Three — The Time of the book, the clock and money.


Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Un Ilze Lokmane. Eriksen presents the complications brought on by the technical innovations of the late twentieth century and onwards , in a time when most people are concerned about how we can further proceed with our innovations. In order to describe our present which he refers to as the "information age" , Eriksen describes the past, thus providing a good overview on what shaped the twentieth century, and why technology developed as it did. Even A book everyone who lives in the "information age" should read. If anything, the book might even appeal to more people today than it did back in , regarding the huge rise of cellular use, laptops and technological devices in general. Some of his predictions can be described as rather unfortunate though, but they are nowhere near undermining the central points of the book. More than anything, they give you a good laugh.


Tyranny of the Moment



Tyranny of the Moment (A Summary/ Notes)


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