Book Review: The Information


It seems like a long time ago that I started The Information:  A History, A Theory, A Flood, by James Gleick. It was. I kept picking it up and putting it down, again and again.  Week after week, there it was. It was stubborn, and so was I, and yet, we found some way to finish our dance. Finally.

I loved the beginning of this book, in which Gleick tracks how primitive cultures used talking drums and other means to disperse information over long distances, and how those methods slowly made their way into such advancements as Morse Code. Information leads to knowledge, perhaps (this isn’t always clear because we don’t always make sense of the information we have or even know it is information), and the more disperse the information, the more likely the possibility that knowledge will also spread. I also loved the ending sections, where Gleick brings us into the modern age of technology and social networks, and the conundrum that we have of having so much information that we don’t know what to do with it. Very interesting.

The middle of the book … I got bogged down with the science of genomes carrying information, and other obscure mathematics that I know are important but I just could not sink my teeth into. I mentioned in a post on Google Plus the other day that here is a book I wish I could remix for myself, so that I could create a powerful tome of ideas. But of course, I would need to know what to leave out, right? I would need more … information.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, for the first few chapters and the last few chapters, and for skimming in the middle. I don’t often skim, but here, I had to. I didn’t give up, either, because I know Gleick is on to something important here, giving our concept of “information” a biography of its own as we try to find some ground to stand upon in this age of boundless and seemingly endless information and data. Gleick gives us one way to at least begin to understand it all.

Peace (in the info),

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