James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, now brings us a work just as astonishing and masterly: a revelatory chronicle and meditation 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
Scintillating conversation partner who is preferably a math, physics, or logic major with strong knowledge of Quantum Physics and Information theory (of today and yesterday)and concepts including, but not limited to, the Babbage/Lovelace Difference Machine, Claude Shannon's math and entropy and cryptology, Turing's machine, logcal paradoxes, Maxwell's demon,The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Schro ...more
I had started reading it last spring before I left Nashville. I was trying to be a good library minion and keep up to date with reading in my field. I got through chapter 7 (1/3 of the book) and decided it was a bit heavy and that I would have enough reading of that sort soon enough in graduate school.
So guess what I had to read for my Perspectives in Information class?
If I thought this book was difficult before....I HAD NO IDEA.
The difficulty lies not in the actual cont ...more
For starters, Gleick keeps the read enjoyable with his strong prose style. The author controls the pace and tone of his writing to carry readers along almost cinematically. Indeed, many passages read like the voice-over of a History Channel program, while simultaneously conjuring for readers the images that would play under the voice-over. It is a strong effect, engrossing and enjoyable.
The other big strong point of The In ...more
Perhaps the best chapter was the one on ...more
I'm sure that for those who are well-versed in information theory, some of his omissions were glaring and seemingly arbitrary, but there is nothing wrong with a book that leaves you wanting more and feeling sufficiently motivate ...more
In The Information, Gleick speaks to the interplay between mathematical progress with science, culture, information theory, and really the development of society. It is an incredible overview of topics ranging from logic to communication to memes. ...more
distances via a tonal drum language with built in redundancy. I loved reading about Babbage and his calculating machine, and to think abou ...more
Gleick pulls all the right ingredients together - Charles Babbage, L ...more
For example, there is a good section about how people adapted to the telegraph - although you can 'send' troops to the front or 'carry' messages, you cannot send a dish of saurkraut to your son. But then a bit later he tells us all about Claude Shannon, a mathemetician at MIT, including several paragraphs abou ...more
My favorit ...more
I once had a job (1977) as a night janitor at a telephone switching office - back in the day when there were real live operators on duty for directory assistance, etc.
After finishing up my duties - cleaning ash trays, emptying wastebaskets, I would go to the basement, pull up a chair by the huge array of batteries that (still) provide backup power for the wired telephone system and read Asimov explaining the structure of the atom and ...more
I would estimate that as much as half the book covers ideas ...more
As with Chaos, Gleick displays a mastery and a passion for the history of ideas while creating new connections himself. Thinkers great and small come to life, and he has a real knack for surfacing exactly the right quote or life detail in a the life of whatever thought he’s following.
Gleick starts (and ends) with Shannon – that odd man from Bell Labs whose information theory is one of the most important developments of thought in the 20th Century, and wh ...more
"Every new medium transforms the nature of human thought. In the long run, history is the story of
information becoming aware of itself. Some information technologies were appreciated in their own time,
but others were not. One that was sorely misunderstood was the African talking drum.
♦ And added drily: “In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his Paleolithic ancestors.”
There is good and interesting stuff here, but it's interspersed with far more stuff that was of little to no interest to me. And the pieces of this book that held my interest were subjects about which I'd already read a fair amount. Ah, well. Not the book's fault. I'm just tired and grumpy.
I would like to have given it 4.5 stars.
Born in New York City, USA, Gleick attended Harvard College, graduating in 1976 with a degree in ...more