This is a fully fleshed out course on all aspects of Information Theory. It's hard not to restate the title, but Gleick moves effortlessly from the history to the theory, and then to the wide reaching implications of observing information in a unit based format.
I was drawn to this book because of my interest in Claude Shannon and his work in data compression. When Claude Shannon first appears, his contribution to Information Theory is identified, but the concentration on compression is glazed over. I was personally disappointed, but Gleick returns to Shannon and Shannon-Fano coding and Huffman coding. This probably doesn't apply to many possible readers, but it explains the style of this book, by glazing over certain aspects initially before coming back around and covering them in much clearer detail. It's somewhat offputting, and I may have to re-listen to the book to ensure I got everything from it, but it ensures that all readers are at a similar understanding before moving towards the more intensive theories.
The 4-star rating for the performance is only because there isn't a 4.5 star rating. It is well read, and my only gripe was the slow pace. There were certain aspects, especially early in the history with the conversations about the use of drums as communication, where my mind would wander and come back, and I would feel like I hadn't missed much in what was trying to be communicated. This should reflect on the writing as much as the narrator, but I feel if it had been a bit "zippier" it may have retained my attention better in those slower sections. On the other hand, the methodical reading does allow for much more time dedicated to words and thoughts that are communicated in the story and isn't distracting as the subject matter gets denser.
James Gleick has clearly not been idle since writing his introduction to chaos theory. I enjoyed this book enormously - I've listened to it twice, am listening to it a third time, and I've also purchased it as an e-book. Not because I didn't understand it the first time - although there are still ideas (like the notion of qubits) that I struggle with - but simply because the ideas he writes about are so important, and have such manifold ramifications. I'm impressed by Gleick's scholarship, the clarity and aptness of his writing, and the sheer breadth of the subject he has tackled. I found sections of the book literally inspiring. Other reviewers commented on aspects of the book which are impossible to render efficiently in audio format (tables, lists of numbers, etc), but these are minor issues set against the overall achievement. All praise to Rob Shapiro's narration - with the single exception of pronouncing 'era' so similarly to 'error' that it sounds like .... an error (at least to this Australian :-) ). I agree it's not a book for everyone, but it is a book for everyone who has even the slightest interest in any aspect of this topic. No matter what your expertise (I am a clinical neurologist), aspects of the book will be fresh, novel, unexpected, or wonderfully informative.
It offers a unique perspective/lens through which I have found useful both for thinking about historical events from the twentieth century as well for understanding the evolving role of technology in the modern era.
Sync by Steven Strogatz- both authors have similar perspectives, both books have a similar style, and both books tackle similar problems.
amazon fan in portland
Making Information Interesting
Gleick not only traces the history of information and communication through history, but he changes our way of looking at information. Information actually is how society orders everything.
Yes, I have listened to Shapiro before, but this might be his best performance yet. He is always conversational, accents and characterization are always realistic, and moderation of tone is masterful.
How we order our world.
In taking us on the journey on how computers learned to think like humans, we humans actually learn something about how we think ourselves. A triumph.
I was intrigued by the name. I am in the business, work in marketing for one of the large media companies, and was looking forward to exploring a scientific side of information and get a glimpse of the future. I am sorry to say that I could not get past first 30 minutes, my mind kept wondering, and I had to rewind multiple times to follow the story (or what the author uses instead of one). Boring. Disappointing.
It follows a logical flow from the discoveries of information theory to our current information age.
l'enfer c'est les autres
Gleick explains information theory from soups to nuts, from African drum talking through Shannon's information theory. His chapter on information entropy is the first time when I finally started understanding the second law of thermodynamics (since they relate so well).
Because of this book any books that have anything regarding information theory, I ended buying it and listening.
In my 12 years of constant Audible listening/reading, There are few that I have enjoyed as much as The Information. As a CIO and data scientist who also happens to be a total history freak, I gained some truly profound insights into the nature of the information stack, from signal to message to language to semantics.
I have read this twice in the last 6 months and have recommended it to hundreds of colleagues. It is very well crafted writing, delivering vignettes at just the right level of length, depth, and, taken as a whole, breadth. You do not need to be a "technology person" to enjoy this.
Very well read by Rob Shapiro as well - this gets my highest recommendation.
this book is relevant to just about every scientific field (math, comp sci, cognitive science, molecular biology, physics, etc etc). i'd nominate this as one of the best non-fiction books of the year.
I was very much interested in the story, but had trouble keeping track of things. I really needed to be able to flip back and forth to remind myself of parts of the history in order for the currently read parts to make complete sense. This doesn't work well in audio format, and I ended up really wishing I had just bought it in print.