Matthew Roche's Reviews > The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

The Information by James Gleick
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Aug 17, 2011

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Read in August, 2011


The problem with the "Information Age" is that so few people that participate in it, through mobile phones, Internet, GPS, etc. have any idea of how it came about and how big a revolution the shift from Analog to Digital really is. Heros like Alan Turing are almost completely unknown and untaught, unlike the heros of the Industrial Revolution like James Watt, Eli Whitney, Robert Fulton and others.

There are real heros, including Babbage, Boole, Godel, and countless others, whose work has made our lives unrecognizable from the lives of our Grandparents.

Part of the problem is that they have few advocates - the information age heros did not become great capitalists, and their work did not carve new landscapes like the great railways and skyscrapers. The other part is that what they do and their contributions are staggeringly hard to comprehend by anyone with even above average intellect and education.

Gleick has done a monumental work to make these lives accessible and interesting. No, it is not the next "Latitude" -- it does not try to distill the information age into a simple story with a single protagonist or invention. But it does present a coherent, compelling narrative describing the most influential course of intellectual and human pursuit of the last 150 years.

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