A History, a Theory, a Flood
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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
© Publishers Weekly
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.
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.