The turn of the millennium is characterized by exponential growth in everything related to communication - from the Internet and email to air travel. "The Tyranny of the Moment" deals with some of the most perplexing paradoxes of this new information age. Who would have expected that apparently timesaving technology results in time being scarcer than ever? And has this seemingly limitless access to information led to confusion rather than enlightenment?Thomas Eriksen argues that slow time - private periods where we are able to think and correspond coherently without interruption - is now one of the most precious resources we have, and it is becoming a major political issue. Since we are now theoretically "online" 24 hours a day, we must fight for the right to be unavailable - the right to live and think more slowly. It is not only that working hours have become longer - Eriksen also shows how the logic of this new information technology has, in the space of just a few years, permeated every area of our lives. This is equally true for those living in poorer parts of the globe usually depicted as outside the reaches of the information age, as well as those in the West. Exploring phenomena such as the world wide web, WAP telephones, multi-channel television and email, "Tyranny of the Moment" examines this new, nonlinear and fragmented way of communicating to reveal the effect it has on working conditions in the new economy, changes in family life and, ultimately, personal identity. Eriksen argues that a culture lacking a sense of its past, and therefore of its future, is effectively static. Although solutions are suggested, he demonstrates that there is no easy way out.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. He is the author of numerous books, including Ethnicity and Nationalism, A History of Anthropology, Small Places, Large Issues, Tyranny of the Moment, Globalisation and Fredrik Barth, all available from Pluto Press.