51: The Tyranny of Light — Hari Tsoukas


Haridimos Tsoukas

Haridimos Tsoukas‘ 1997 article “The Tyranny of Light” was a bold article that challenged conventional wisdom about the oncoming information society. The Internet, personal computers, and the dot-com boom were still new and exciting. With information technologies advancing at an incredible pace, the sky (and the capacity of silicon) was the limit. Internet start-ups were sprouting up everywhere as young entrepreneurs strove to become the next Bill Gates. Never mind that the vast majority failed and faded quickly away (see Episode 49 and the example of normative control in a tech company). The possibilities seemed endless.

But so too were the dangers. Hari Tsoukas foresaw the problems that an information dominated society might produce. Could greater access to information have undesirable consequences, such as the loss of understanding or the growth of distrust? Could an information society disrupt socio-political norms? If these became true, what would happen.

Bolstered by hindsight and knowledge of how the information society evolved, we (your intrepid podcasters) take a look back at 1997.  To what extent Tsoukas got the future right, and what else transpired that Tsoukas could not have known or anticipated. What does this suggest for society and its leaders today?



You will also be able to download the audio files here: Part 1 | Part 2 |  Part 3

Read with us:

Tsoukas, H. (1997). The tyranny of light: The temptations and the paradoxes of the information society. Futures, 29(9), 827-843.

To know more:

Rivera, L. A. (2012). Hiring as cultural matching: The case of elite professional service firms. American sociological review, 77(6), 999-1022.

Rivera, L. A. (2016). Pedigree: How elite students get elite jobs. Princeton University Press.

Turco, C. J. (2016). The conversational firm: Rethinking bureaucracy in the age of social media. Columbia University Press.