Ian Tregillis's Reviews > The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

The Information by James Gleick
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May 08, 2012

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Read from May 08 to 30, 2012

This was OK. It wasn't what I was looking for, though, and so I found myself invariably dozing off while trying to finish it. (The insomnia didn't help.)

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.
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Reading Progress

05/14/2012 "Not devouring this as quickly as I expected, but it's still worth it. Coincidentally, I just discovered Gleick is going to deliver a lecture at the Santa Fe Institute this Wednesday. So that should be fun."
05/15/2012 "Godel, Shannon, and Turing crossing paths? Now I'm excited as hell to see the Gleick lecture at SFI tomorrow."
05/16/2012 "Went to a lecture by James Gleick this evening. It wasn't what I'd hoped for. It was cool to see him in person, but the lecture was 30 minutes of, "Isn't the information age really awesome?" I was hoping for something meatier, relevant to the cool stuff in this book. His lecture mentioned Claude Shannon, but said absolutely nothing about what he actually accomplished. Oh well." 6 comments

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Tregillis Is was so-so. It was interesting to see him in person, since I'd read and enjoyed other books of his. But his talk was fairly short, and basically consisted of 30 minutes of, "Isn't the information age interesting?"

He isn't a terrific public speaker. Or, maybe it was an off night for him. Fairly monotone, not very confident. Maybe he's very shy -- it wasn't at all what I expected based on his books. He seemed congenial and self-effacing, though, which is always a plus in my book.

I had hoped for something meatier. He glossed over anything that was (to me) vaguely interesting. I just wasn't the right audience for his talk -- others seemed to enjoy it immensely. I would've thought that a bunch of people coming to hear a lecture put on by the Santa Fe Institute would tolerate at least a little bit of depth. Some of the questions from the audience tried to push for more depth, with little success.

message 2: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Tregillis Elizabeth wrote: "That sounds really disappointing. I'm not impressed by people who won't go into more detail when questioned. It leaves me with the impression that they don't really know what they're talking about ..."

That was exactly my impression, too. I came away thinking that perhaps he didn't understand the details of information theory. He did skirt the more technical questions.

To be fair, it wasn't false advertising -- his talk was straight out of the book, and pretty much what the SFI promoted. But I was looking for something more technical, because I want to learn more about this subject, which I guess is why I wasn't the target audience.

Oh, well.

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