Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Book: The Information

Score: 4/5

I just finished reading the book “The Information” by James Gleick.  In it Gleick chronicles the history of information – the idea, storage, retrieval, transmission, and processing of it. 

The book opens with an examination on ancient techniques for transmitting messages – African drumming, speaking, all the way to examining the writing systems, natural languages, information theory, the origin of computers, quantum computing, and ends at discussing the phenomenon of information deluge.

I found the book to be insightful and comprehensive, though a little long when explaining the various information theories.  It will suit someone with a serious interest in those areas.

My favourite part in the book was when it detailed what the world prior to writing was like.  In that world, there was no standard spelling, alphabets didn’t have order, there were no dictionaries, very little formal logic system developed for argument sakes, and mental abstraction of ideas were not present.  Words disappeared as soon as they were spoken (they only existed in people’s memories otherwise), and definitions for terms changed constantly, sometimes within the same conversation.  The invention of writing allowed a thought to be analyzed repeatedly and meticulously, which made recording history and the development of science, math, logic, and all other fields in its current sophistication possible.

I hope you find this book enjoyable as well.

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