The Information by James Gleick
A History, a Theory, a Flood

76%

11 Critic Reviews

As he traces the evolution of intertwined ideas, he provides vivid portraits of Shannon and other pioneers of our Information Age, including Charles Babbage...and Alan Turing, whose machines helped the Allies crack German codes during World War II.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

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.
 

About James Gleick

See more books from this Author
James Gleick (www.around.com) was born in New York City in 1954. He worked for ten years as an editor and reporter for The New York Times, founded an early Internet portal, the Pipeline, and wrote three previous books: Chaos, Genius, and Faster. His latest book Isaac Newton is available from Pantheon. He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with his wife.
 
Published March 1, 2011 by Vintage. 547 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 27 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Information
All: 11 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average

Gleick loves the layered detail, which might cause some to sigh, “TMI.” But for completist cybergeeks and infojunkies, the book delivers a solid summary of a dense, complex subject.

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NY Times

Above average
on Mar 18 2011

Some of the concepts are challenging, but as in previous books like “Chaos”...Gleick provides lucid expositions for readers who are up to following the science and suggestive analogies for those who are just reading for the plot.

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NY Times

Good
on Mar 06 2011

“The Information” is so ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical that it will amount to aspirational reading for many of those who have the mettle to tackle it. Don’t make the mistake of reading it quickly.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alok Jha on Nov 22 2012

Gleick sets himself a monumental task – to tell the story of information throughout human history – and delivers.

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Guardian

Above average
on Apr 30 2011

...Gleick shows how Shannon's information theory not only led to computers and cyberspace, but also transformed biology into an information science concerned with messages, instructions and codes, where the gene is the information.

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Guardian

Good
on Apr 24 2011

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...There are few writers who could accomplish this with such panache and authority.

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WSJ online

Good
on Mar 01 2011

As he traces the evolution of intertwined ideas, he provides vivid portraits of Shannon and other pioneers of our Information Age, including Charles Babbage...and Alan Turing, whose machines helped the Allies crack German codes during World War II.

Read Full Review of The Information: A History, a... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Darren Wershler on Mar 25 2011

Information theory is well-trodden territory in communication studies...Gleick winnows it down into a thick executive summary that's accessible to a general audience, while remaining of interest to experts in the field

Read Full Review of The Information: A History, a... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

LA Times

Good
on Mar 13 2011

The story of the telegraph is central to "The Information," which is a wide-ranging, deeply researched and delightfully engaging history ...of how we have come to occupy a world defined in bits and bytes.

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The Daily Beast

Above average
on Mar 01 2011

It’s a long, complicated, and important story, beginning with tribal drummers and ending with quantum physics, and in Gleick’s hands it’s also a mesmerizing one.

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Boing Boing

Good
on Mar 24 2011

The Information isn't just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea...It is a book that vibrates with excitement, and it transmits that excited vibration with very little signal loss. It is a wonder.

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