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The Information

A History, a Theory, a Flood

James Gleick

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

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 utterance vanishes as soon as it is born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa, Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the brilliant and doomed daughter of the poet, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself.
 
And then the information age arrives. Citizens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficionados of bits and bytes. And we sometimes feel we are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 21, 2011 – In 1948, Bell Laboratories announced the invention of the electronic semiconductor and its revolutionary ability to do anything a vacuum tube could do but more efficiently. While the revolution in communications was taking these steps, Bell Labs scientist Claude Shannon helped to write a monograph for them, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, in which he coined the word bit to name a fundamental unit of computer information. As bestselling author Gleick (Chaos) astutely argues, Shannon's neologism profoundly changed our view of the world; his brilliant work introduced us to the notion that a tiny piece of hardware could transmit messages that contained meaning and that a physical unit, a bit, could measure a quality as elusive as information. Shannon's story is only one of many in this sprawling history of information. With his brilliant ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another, beginning with African tribes' use of drums and including along the way scientists like Samuel B. Morse, who invented the telegraph; Norbert Wiener, who developed cybernetics; and Ada Byron, the great Romantic poet's daughter, who collaborated with Charles Babbage in developing the first mechanical computer. Gleick's exceptional history of culture concludes that information is indeed the blood, the fuel, and the vital principle on which our world runs.

Customer Reviews

Philosophical version of Gleick

Not typical Gleick. Some interesting history, but too much philosophical waxing. Those who are into this style will appreciate this work as it's expressed as a full symphony on information. Those who want something more concise, will find the work long albeit punctuated with some fascinating history. Because I belong to the latter category, I'm not sure I can recommend this to the fan of Gleick's previous work embodied by his books on chaos, and Feynman.

Can you imagine not being able to imagine writing?

I was quite happy with the review that I painstakingly typed into my iPad over the last half hour.

iBooks was also impressed.

I know this because it immediately crashed and erased everything I wrote.
(it devoured my review. beep beep beep beep. it's kind of… a bummer)

So, I suppose you'll have to take my (abbreviated) word for it - the book is very good. read it.

The gist of my original review is this:

Most history books, especially history of science, can't escape the condescension implicit to hindsight.
Gleick avoids it by thoroughly describing thought and perception in a world where the telephone (the dictionary. logic. the written word), is not missing, it's just… unimaginable.

The Information

This a fantastic book! Anyone that has ZZZZZZ from reading it should take a nap and pick up Dan Brown.
I learned more and was amazed by the intellectual power of the author in making a very difficult topic understandable and interesting.
From beginning to end it is a tour de force!
Thanks, James Gleick.

Jim Clark

The Information
View In iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Mar 01, 2011
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 544 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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