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The Information Audiobook

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"Accessible and engrossing." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1048 )
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4.3 (716 )
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Performance
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  •  
    beth and chris philadelphia 09-02-14
    beth and chris philadelphia 09-02-14 Member Since 2015

    Beth reads books. She holds them in her hand and she turns the pages and reads the words. I download, plug in, and listen.

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    "my brain hurts in a good way"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Information to be better than the print version?

    yes. i don't think i could turn all the pages.


    What other book might you compare The Information to and why?

    Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software


    What about Rob Shapiro’s performance did you like?

    i never noticed him


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    couldn't've


    Any additional comments?

    i'll buy this book now and keep it on my shelf. i am sure i will want to be reminded of the things inside it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen Eicken 04-28-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Better to read the book"
    Would you listen to The Information again? Why?

    No, because it is too complicated


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Leave out some of the details. Simplify it.


    What does Rob Shapiro bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He made the lives of the characters more interesting


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Not a film kind of book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carsten Schmidt Washington, D.C. United States 03-31-14
    Carsten Schmidt Washington, D.C. United States 03-31-14
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    "positive surprise"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Rob Shapiro’s performances?

    in a book that includes so many German phrases and words it would be nice to have someone check on Rob's German skills


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-22-14
    Matt LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 03-22-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Lifevest for those drowning in in4mation overload"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    As a fan of history podcasts and world history (check out Dan Carlin's Hardcore History for absolute listening crack cocaine), I often wondered about the internet and it's potential impact on society at large.

    Often I had suggested in forums that this topic should be examined as, aside from the printing press, I could think of no example in human history where one invention had so connected the world. Logically I was curious to see what other examples could be found, and if they could offer a predictor for possible outcomes of such connectivity.

    While the book doesn't offer any predictions, it does uniformly cover the creation of not just the internet, but the curation of ideas, and the connectedness of man in many different facets.

    Hearing the history of mankinds efforts to connect, their soaring successes, the ideas ahead of their time, and the results of all of them at the time, has helped me weed through information overload, and feel more at peace with a world where you cannot turn without hitting a screen, a fact, or a transmission of some kind every moment of the day.

    The book was a perfect drink to quench my history of information thirst. AMAZING!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. Segal Ithaca 11-04-13
    H. Segal Ithaca 11-04-13 Member Since 2015

    Cornell Faculty

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    "Brilliant, enlightening, beautifully written"
    Would you listen to The Information again? Why?

    Sure - the book unfolds and builds so effectively.


    What other book might you compare The Information to and why?

    I read Chaos Theory by Gleick after listening to The Information -- another fascinating book. Gleick is the new voice of the history of science.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Gleick's description of how scientists figured out how the talking drums in Africa communicated.


    Any additional comments?

    A must read for anyone interested in science and the culture at large. Also Rob Shapiro voices the book perfectly - a pleasure to hear him read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie 07-22-13
    Bonnie 07-22-13 Member Since 2004

    I am a voracious audiobook listener. I listen to everything: fiction, business, technology, politics...I need an interesting story, intriguing characters, and a fast pace to keep me interested.

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    "This is my book of the decade!"
    Where does The Information rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is among the top three (of several hundred).


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Information?

    The talking drums stuck with me. I have told that story over and over.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Henry Chatswood, Australia 07-14-13
    Henry Chatswood, Australia 07-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "An essential read for today's knowledge worker."
    Would you listen to The Information again? Why?

    Yes. I found the content and the narration very good. Given the massive scope and content in this book, I was hooked and the narration was something I felt made it easy to listen to for long periods of time. Listening to the book again is needed to get the timeline of key events and people into order. I think IT workers and any knowledge workers would find this book interesting in understanding the history of information and where information management is going.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The historical characters are brought to life in this book. Even though learning about 'information' may sound boring, this book made it really interesting with all its human stories and conflicts.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 03-16-13
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 03-16-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Interesting topic turned dry"
    Any additional comments?

    The Information is a terrific idea for a book. Unfortunately what Gleick has produced is much more like a college professor's lecture notes compiled into book form. Very heavy on the history of information, beginning with the development of language, and continuing to the modern day information technologies. There are no conclusions sought, no parables discovered and no insights revealed, just a retelling of historical progression. Even the long epilogue doesn't really serve to enlighten, more just to illustrate the current developments in information theory and information quantum theory - an interesting topic if developed, but it is mostly elaborately defined.

    Only recommended for those an insatiable interest in the topic; everyone else will be put off by the pedantic tone and drone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shonneal 03-04-13
    shonneal 03-04-13
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    "Informative History of Information"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Information to be better than the print version?

    The audio was nice, but there are many parts of the book that are long lists. This is fine in a book, but it was a little tedious to listen to. The long lists are my only complaint about the audio format.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The earlier chapters are more dense and filled with great background. I think these chapters were more informative than the later chapters.


    What does Rob Shapiro bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He did a good job of not making the more technical chapters sound like a technical manual. His voice and speed kept the story moving at a good pace.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This was not a story that has moving moments. That aside, I thought the 2nd chapter was fantastic.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a good book. The first third is really good. The remainder is interesting, but does not illuminate as well. Since this is not a narrative book starting strong and ending weak is not a real shortfall. This book is worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mackenzie 02-04-13
    Mackenzie 02-04-13
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    "Far too long"

    A disappointment. Far too long and much to much information -- a deluge of information. Needs a good editor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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