- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; unknown edition (March 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400096235
- ISBN-13: 978-1400096237
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 259 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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“Magnificent…this elegant, insightful study reminds us that we have always been adrift in an incomprehensible universe.” –Los Angeles Times, Best Books of 2011
“Grand, lucid and awe-inspiring…information is about a lot more than what human beings have to say to each other. It’s the very stuff of reality, and never have its mysteries been offered up with more elegance or aplomb.” –Salon, Best of 2011
“With his ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick ably leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another.” –Publishers Weekly, Top 100 Books of 2011
“Ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical.” –New York Times
“Gleick does what only the best science writers can do: take a subject of which most of us are only peripherally aware and put it at the center of the universe.” –Time
"The Information isn't just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes . . . and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement." --Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“No author is better equipped for such a wide-ranging tour than Mr. Gleick. Some writers excel at crafting a historical narrative, others at elucidating esoteric theories, still others at humanizing scientists. Mr. Gleick is a master of all these skills.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Extraordinary in its sweep . . . Gleick’s story is beautifully told, extensively sourced, and continually surprising.” —The Boston Globe
“Audacious. . . . Like the best college courses: challenging but rewarding.” —USA Today
“Challenging and important. . . . This intellectual history is intoxicating—thanks to Gleick’s clear mind, magpie-styled research and explanatory verve.” —The Plain Dealer
“Gleick’s skill as an explicator of counterintuitive concepts makes the chapters on logic . . . brim with tension.” —The Oregonian
“The Information puts our modern ‘information revolution’ in context, helping us appreciate the many information revolutions that preceded and enable it. The internet certainly has changed things, but Gleick shows that it has changed only what has already changed many times before. . . . His enthusiam is contagious.” —New Scientist
“Impressively, reassuringly, Gleick’s substantial, dense book comes as close as anything of late to satiating [the] twin demand for knowledge and clarity.” —The Irish Times
“This is a work of rare penetration, a true history of ideas whose witty and determined treatment of its material brings clarity to a complex subject.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“The page-turner you never knew you desperately wanted to read.” —The Stranger
“To grasp what information truly means—to explain why it is shaping up as a unifying principle of science—Gleick has to embrace linguistics, logic, telecommunications, codes, computing, mathematics, philosophy, cosmology, quantum theory and genetics. . . . There are few writers who could accomplish this with such panache and authority. Gleick, whose 1987 work Chaos helped to kickstart the era of modern popular science, is one.” —The Observer (London)
“Enlightening. . . . Engagingly assembled.” —Nature
“ Mesmerizing. . . . As a celebration of human ingenuity, The Information is a deeply hopeful book.” —Nicholas Carr, The Daily Beast
“An amazing erudite and yet highly readable account of why and how information plays such a central role in all our lives, Gleick’s The Information is amongst the most profound books written about technology over the last few years.” —TechCrunch TV
“The web Gleick has woven is a rare one, a whole that envelops and exceeds its many parts, which certainly suits his topic. His contribution—too easily underrated in a work that synthesizes the ideas of others—lies in linking fields of science that aren’t connected in a formal sense. By the close of the book you cannot think of information as you might have before.” —Tim Wu, Slate
“[Gleick] is wrestling with truly profound material, and so will the reader. This is not a book you will race through on a single plane trip. It is a slow, satisfying meal.” —David Shenk, Columbia Journalism Review
“Gleick connects the dots that connect information to us, and there are many dots. . . . Here in one volume is the great story of the most important element at work in the world, and its story is well told. I had forgotten what a fantastic stylist Gleick is. It’s a joy to read him talking about anything.” —Kevin Kelly, The Technium
“Packed with the rich history of human thought and communication through the ages.” —PopMatters
About the Author
JAMES GLEICK is our leading chronicler of science and technology, and the author of Chaos and Genius, both nominated for the National Book Award, and Isaac Newton, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. His books have been translated into thirty languages.
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I knew a lot of the history, having lived some of it, but a lot of this was new to me.
Very well-researched and presented in a clear and highly readable style. This volume clearly covers the concepts and development of theories of information. It covers both theory and practice and whether you are a beginning computer programmer or an information science theorist, you should find something in here that you didn't know and that will awaken you to some new ideas.
If you like this volume, try "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter. That is an eclectic and entertaining mix of mathematics, art, and music philosophy, tying together apparently dissimilar disciplines into a mind-bending tour-de-force.
The book uses the contributions of Claude Shannon as a thread to tie everyone's work together, but this is not a biography of Claude Shannon.
The final chapters are a bit weak in my opinion, especially following such solid work as the preceding chapters. One of the weak (in my opinion) chapters is devoted entirely to Wikipedia. I am enthused with Wikipedia but I don't think it is yet clear what will be a future historian's view of Wikipedia and that it deserves its own full chapter.
Overall I found the book to be very enjoyable and educational, adding considerably to my previous knowledge of Mr Shannon's work and bringing me new knowledge of how Mr Shannon's work linked with the work of others to bring us our current "information age."
My complete satisfaction with Gleick's past work, especially the thoroughness of his notes and his eclectic exposition, compelled me to preorder this book. The Information is all of the above and more. He presents a history, including the fundamentals of language as, for example, employed for millennia by African drummers, then traverses the history of writing (even spelling), difference and analysis engines to the evolution of telegraphs and telephony. The theory then champions the work of Godel, Turing, Shannon, von Neumann and Wiener as information takes on a physical context and leaps into the age of digital logic. Gleick's notes became my list for texts to further read around the topic. Then comes the flood, the rise on the internet, Wiki and the cloud.
The Information is a rewarding and enjoyable read and contains many of the charming minutiae that Gleick's research uncovers. As he listed the objectives of Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica and its imminent demolition, Gleick describes the early days of the demolisher, Godel, attending smoky Viennese coffee houses and expounding logic. Highly recommended.
Gleick is a great writer and a pleasure to read. He presents his topic thematically, chronologically, and inserting biographical elements to shape something like an informational saga. He not only engages the reader but also explain difficult concepts in great detail (his presentation of Gödel's incompleteness theorems is an example.)
With an intermixture of Entropy and Information Gleick discusses the most important issue from a human perspective: how to extract knowledge and wisdom from a flood of data. It is very interesting to realize that our modern discussion is just a last iteration of searching and filtering. From library indexing, book catalogs, almanacs through our modern Internet algorithms, the problem remains the same: when all information is available, how do you find it and when does it become meaningful? The author is right in using Borges's "The Library of Babel" as the perfect metaphor for it.