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.
Got more and more interesting as I went along
It's only the 18th and I've listened to this book twice (it was released on the 1st and I didn't get it day one). I like James Gleick's other books, so I gave this one a chance. I didn't know where he was going at the beginning, but stick with it, it's fascinating. From Jungle Drums to the Internet, there's not just detail, there is new ground I was never aware of and I found it very interesting. There were several points where I had to stop the story to say "whoa!" and write a note down. More important, the story of Claude Shannon was mesmerizing. I was completely unaware of his story, his history, and his total influence on the world as we know it. After his introduction here, I was compelled to "kick" someone a lot more famous out of the "100 Greatest Americans of All-Time." I recommend this highly. We are in the Information Age and this book does a great job telling you how we got there and how the logic of information works. When you're finished listening, that cover art will be a lot more meaningful.
This book is revelatory and astounding, I have been in the business of communication since 1967 - mostly in news. I thought I understood what I was doing until I encountered this book. I feel like a veil has been drawn away from my eyes and I have been seeing, as another writer put it, "through a glass, darkly." Gleick has widened and depended my understanding of what I do beyond any expectations. The writing is entrancing and alluring as he draws you from concept to concept until you reach the shoals of EUREKA! Or maybe it's just me.