James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, brings us his crowning work: a revelatory chronicle that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.
The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanished as soon as it was born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long misunderstood “talking drums” of Africa, James Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the poet’s brilliant and doomed daughter, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself.
And then the information age comes upon us. Citizens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficionados of bits and bytes. And they sometimes feel they are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading. It will transform readers’ view of its subject.
©2011 James Gleick (P)2011 Random House
"Accessible and engrossing." (Library Journal)
It explained several big ideas that were new to me: the abstraction of information and meaning, the comparison to entropy and the idea that we are genetic and organic information replication machines.
Chaos - same author, similarly unusual and big ideas.
Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, The Black Swan - seemingly counterintuitive ideas.
It made me think.
It is a great scientific narrative.
The discussion of the second law of thermodynamics.
Sure but it is too long for that.
The book was good when it surveyed the history of how we got here (data speaking) but faltered when the author sidetracked into mathematical theorem and equations. The mathematical details did little to support the overall narrative. Still, interesting enough to finish.
This is probably the best audio book available that covers information theory and attempts to share a conceptual understanding of the topic. While I have not yet listened to the author's earlier work on chaos theory; I suspect they link well with each other, and I plan to use my credits soon on the other.
Information is a book that counterweights the agony of the information limbos humanity has endured in the past and is enduring now. Gleick reminds the reader that meaning will not be buried by the current cacophonie, because language itself is produced by ambiguity endemic to mental acumen.
I really enjoyed this read and I suggest it to anyone interested in the pursuit of information.
Like information itself, there are a few diamonds in the rough, and one can risk overload. I skipped several chapters in this book that didn't quite suit what I was looking for. The author fleshes out things with colorful wording that need little explanation, and some parts on audio are painful to hear (30+ spellings of 'mackerel'). If you want an unabridged history spanning millennia, this is for you. For anyone else, feel free to skip chapters like I did.
There are only tei books in the last 5 years that help understand whhere we are and where we may be headed: What Technology Wants, and The Information.
Easily one of the five best books I've ever read. It is difficult to imagine any non-experts who would not find this work endlessly fascinating and absorbing. Gleick's powers of far ranging synthesis and clear compelling explanation are awe-inspiring.
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