By James Gleick, Pantheon, $29.95, 526 pages
The Information is a history of how information mediums (drums, printing press, telegraph, bits, and bytes) evolved and transformed human thought. The Information is in part, a theory of information itself and the history of information theory’s creator Claude Shannon and central characters Charles Babbage, Samuel Morse, Ada Byron, and others. The Information is a flood, a deluge of bits and bytes, of information. From the space between two drum beats, to a line in Wikipedia, to the replicating fragments of nucleic acid in our DNA, Gleick argues convincingly that the story of information is the story of us. It is how we got here, and where we, humans; the organizers, the creators, and most importantly, the creations of Information, may be going within this vast “library of the universe”.
Reader, take the time to digest and ponder through this book. It is transformative, accessible, and surprising. “Information is uncertainty, surprise, difficulty, and entropy”. Gleick’s The Information is all of these.
Reviewed by Catherine McMullen