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The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Gleick, a science journalist and chronicler of physics provides interesting background material and simple enough explanations for anyone who wishes to learn about the areas of information theory that influence our times, technologies and businesses. He also gives enough detail for the interested undergraduate student whose field is not primarily in the sciences. But, the unification of science, phenomena, history and biography is also of considerable interest to those like myself who have extensive training in the "information sciences" but seek a wider context for their previously acquired knowledge.
One slight criticism, I have for this otherwise excellent and comprehensive review of the theory of information and its history, is in the area of its relation to physics and the structure of the world (universe).Read more ›
Unfortunately the rest of the book falls far short of this strong standard. Glieck attempts to tackle too much, offering forgettable takes on topics including dictionaries, telegraphs, Charles Babbage, Wikipedia, memes, and information surfeit. These topics are not well-anchored to the central topic of information theory, and serve to muddle the work. But most disappointingly, the chapters on biology (Ch. 10) and quantum physics (Ch. 13) leave a ton to be desired. Glieck barely scratches the surface of the application of information theory to biology (particularly neuroscience), and the discussion of quantum information begs many more questions to be answered. What Glieck does introduce about these topics is disjointed and in need of serious editing. For instance, Glieck introduces Christopher Fuchs and quantum information theory, but before the discussion really goes anywhere, he shifts to a cursory discussion of black holes and information before shifting to an equally vacuous discussion of quantum computation and teleportation.Read more ›
In a revealing work, backed by painstaking research, James Gleick, has combed the archives to show us some absorbing details and insights on how the structure of information progressed from clay tablets to telegraph to cloud technology.
This is a hefty book, but its theme can be shortly stated. Mr. Gleick believes "in the long run, history is the story of information becoming aware of itself."
Context can be everything in historical interpretation, as James Gleick makes clear in his convincing prolog that "the alphabet was a founding technology of information; the telephone, the fax machine, the calculator and, ultimately the computer are only the latest innovations devised for saving, manipulating, and communicating knowledge." Mr. Gleick's narrative builds into a fulfilling and thought-provoking story.
The author begins with the amazing tale of how African drums communicated, then shifts to Robert Cawdrey's "Table Alphabeticall in 1604. He shows us how time and space are minimized and global consciousness realized.
At more than 500 pages, with few illustrations, this book looks terrifying. But the pages dissolve quickly as Mr. Gleick introduces us to a range of vivid characters, such as colorful Charles Babbage, the inventor of the ever growing difference machine in 1822.
After twenty years of development it weighed 15 tons with over 25,000 precision parts. But by 1842 the British government had grown weary of Babbage's pork barrel project. "What shall we do to get rid of Mr. Babbage and his calculating machine?" asked Prime Minister Robert Peel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a wide-ranging take on information from before Babbage to today’s computers with a side trip through theories and practices of information. Read morePublished 9 days ago by J. Edgar Mihelic, MBA
If you like the idea of relating information to thermodynamics - more specifically, the second law of entropy, you will whiz through this book in one sitting despite its length. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Melissa R. Cooper
Another in depth coverage, well worth the thought-provoking time to read.Published 2 months ago by Mark J. Ouska
Written with zest and dense with information comes another knowledge enhancing book from James Gleick. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Depperman
This is an outstanding look at both the history and the cultural significance of information. I purchased the Audible and the Kindle versions and after listening to sections in the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joe Miller
Like anything Gleick writes (Chaos, Genius, Faster...) it is a non-fiction work that is hard to put down yet when you've read it you still want more! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Brian J Boyle
A great listen - several times over. Found the book a tough read, but the audio version made it much more enjoyable.Published 6 months ago by FP