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.
I noticed when deciding whether to purchase this book that a lot of other reviewers had commented on that the author had centered on his own part of the story rather than a comprehensive explanation of the system itself. I definitely was much more interested in the system than the author's story, but I decided to purchase it anyway. This is definitely an autobiography about the author's experience as an external member of the system, as well as his attempt to build his own system. However, I found the story to be an excellent listen, with parts that I laughed out loud to.
Couple of corrections of the other reviews:
While the author (and narrator) wrote about himself, in no way did he present himself as being any more important than he actually was. He thoroughly explained the limitations of his knowledge (often with a humorous anecdote) and he never blurred the line between his take on how the system worked and the facts on what he saw of the system.
If you're looking for an explanation of the algorithms behind the system, I regretfully have to say that this is not the book for you. However, I was also looking for more information on the algorithms, and found this book a delightful diversion, even if I was officially "disappointed". I have listened to audiobooks multiple times before, and I intend on listening to this one again in the future.
The four stars for the narration is a medium. The narrator's performance of voices other than his own can be trying, especially his take on female voices, but the fact that the author himself is narrating really adds to the realism of the feelings he had as he experienced the story.
I look forward to listening to more from Michael Konik, and put him in the mix with some of my favorite audiobook authors (which include Scott Patterson and Michael Lewis).
The story of Jim Clark is very interesting, but it's hard to make an entire book on his effect on Silicon Valley, as well as differentiate how his interaction with Venture Capitalists is different than Google's or shaped a path that simply wasn't available previously. Michael Lewis does his best though, and it would make for a fun listen if not for a narrator that feels it's necessary to "perform" every character uniquely. The choices for accents and tones proves extremely distracting from the story, and affects the listeners appreciation of Michael Lewis' work.
While the movie is a good movie, The Blind Side, as with Moneyball, is so much richer as a book. How Michael Oher fits into the ongoing shifts in how players are valued in football is covered to an amazing depth, and also brings a new appreciation to the game that many viewers simply don't appreciate as every play includes one battle in the ongoing war over the line of scrimmage. While not as intense in statistics as Moneyball, the understanding of the reasoning behind the varied salaries of each position is wealth of gaming theory analysis and very enjoyable to listen to.
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