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4 Beaverton Science Reference- General

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood


The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood Cover

ISBN13: 9780375423727
ISBN10: 0375423729
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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melissarochell, October 14, 2013 (view all comments by melissarochell)
If you like the idea of relating information to thermodynamics - more specifically, the second law of entropy, you will whiz through this book in one sitting despite its length. In any transformation, a dissipation occurs. Loss in one form of energy is inevitable; in our futile attempts to avoid this loss, we inadvertently gain energy in other forms. Information can be viewed similarly. As it travels through books, mouths, films, etc., it loses something each time. This loss creates room for the unintended gains.

I probably slaughtered the description with my futile attempts at explaining this. Suppose we can call this lesson #1.
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Mark Castner, January 30, 2012 (view all comments by Mark Castner)
_The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood_. Dry as the title may sound, this is James Gleick who can catch you up in a subject that you never imagined you would be interested in.

So often today we hear the phrase "information overload." But what is information? Can you define it? Gleick starts with seemingly simple examples of how information is transmitted from one point or person to another, then he leads us through the development of the formal theory of information.

There was a time when the telegraph was considered instantaneous communication. But it was quickly overshadowed by the telephone. Gleick has a dozen more examples and he ends of course with the Internet, Google searches, Twitter, and the like.

I picked up the book because my brother loaned it to me, though I never thought I would finish it. It quickly became a book that I kept coming back to until it was done. If you are interested in how and why technology of all types helps to shape the human world, this is the book for you. And when you are finished, try Nicholas Carr's new book, _The Shallows_. He will explain how technology and information flow reshape the human brain.

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Ronald Wortz, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by Ronald Wortz)
Enjoyable to read and thought-provoking from start to finish. A wonderful rumination on the nature of information--its history, what it is, and what it means to us as we live in our world and attempt to make sense of it.
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Christian McNeil, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by Christian McNeil)
The best book I've read in quite some time - I found myself needing to absorb each chapter for several days at a time, savoring the densely-packed insights. If you liked this one, I'd suggest following it up with Brian Christian's "The Most Human Human."
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Stephen Sinclair, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Stephen Sinclair)
James Gleick's THE INFORMATION an read. Gleick treats telegraph, telephone and television all as stepping stones leading us into the flood, as his subtitle suggests. Media for Gleick are all double edged, enabling and limiting. Gleick is never enthralled by the "unintentional" recording on film or disk, the cough rather than the music. Dada is. Media are NOT the alpha and omega of theory. Gleick's book is not at all a chore to work through. He has plenty for everybody. If you take the extra time to follow him carefully, you will get a solid feel for some of the more complex topics.
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Product Details

Gleick, James
Pantheon Books
Cukier, Kenneth
nberger, Viktor
Viktor Mayer-Sch
Ferreira, Pedro G.
Information society
Information science -- History.
Library & Information Science - General
Reference-Bibliography and Library Science
Information Management
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
A Revolution That Wi
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in 1.1 lb

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Related Subjects

Engineering » Engineering » History
Featured Titles » Science
Reference » Bibliography and Library Science
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Reference » Science Reference » Sociology of Science
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Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Pantheon - English 9780375423727 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1948, Bell Laboratories announced the invention of the electronic semiconductor and its revolutionary ability to do anything a vacuum tube could do but more efficiently. While the revolution in communications was taking these steps, Bell Labs scientist Claude Shannon helped to write a monograph for them, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, in which he coined the word 'bit' to name a fundamental unit of computer information. As bestselling author Gleick (Chaos) astutely argues, Shannon's neologism profoundly changed our view of the world; his brilliant work introduced us to the notion that a tiny piece of hardware could transmit messages that contained meaning and that a physical unit, a bit, could measure a quality as elusive as information. Shannon's story is only one of many in this sprawling history of information. With his brilliant ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another, beginning with African tribes' use of drums and including along the way scientists like Samuel B. Morse, who invented the telegraph; Norbert Wiener, who developed cybernetics; and Ada Byron, the great Romantic poet's daughter, who collaborated with Charles Babbage in developing the first mechanical computer. Gleick's exceptional history of culture concludes that information is indeed the blood, the fuel, and the vital principle on which our world runs. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (starred review) (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "Recent appearances on the quiz show Jeopardy by the IBM supercomputer dubbed Watson have brought questions of artificial vs. human intelligence to the fore in publications as diverse as the Economist and Entertainment Weekly. The silicon beast's ability to parse natural language full of idiom and metaphor (and to phrase its answers in the form of questions) has been truly impressive. But Watson's feats would not have been possible without instantaneous access to virtually the entire sum of human knowledge via the Internet. Yet these days that's the part we find less awe-inspiring; for many of us, being able to unearth the answer to nearly any factual question in seconds is something we take for granted. Among its many goals, James Gleick's The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood aims to explain how we got here. (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"Review" by , "Accessible and engrossing."
"Review" by , "[A] tour de force....This is intellectual history of tremendous verve, insight, and significance. Unfailingly spirited, often poetic, Gleick recharges our astonishment over the complexity and resonance of the digital sphere and ponders our hunger for connectedness....Destined to be a science classic, best-seller Gleick's dynamic history of information will be one of the biggest nonfiction books of the year."
"Review" by , "Accessible and engrossing."
"Review" by , “The author’s skills as an interpreter of science shine...for completist cybergeeks and infojunkies, the book delivers a solid summary of a dense, complex subject.”
"Review" by , “So ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical that it will amount to aspirational reading for many of those who have the mettle to tackle it... The Information is to the nature, history and significance of data what the beach is to sand.”
"Review" by , "No author is better equipped for such a wide- ranging tour than Mr. Gleick. Some writers excel at crafting a historical narrative, others at elucidating esoteric theories, still others at humanizing scientists. Mr. Gleick is a master of all these skills."
"Review" by , “A grand narrative if ever there was one...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. And there are anecdotes that every reader can enjoy...A prodigious intellectual survey.”
"Review" by , “A brilliant, panoramic view of how we save and communicate knowledge...and provides thrilling portraits of the geniuses behind the inventions. Provocative and illuminating.”
"Review" by , “Expertly draws out neglected names and stories from history...Gleick’s skill as an expicator of counterintuitive concepts makes the chapters on logic, the stuff even most philosophy majors slept through in class, brim with tension.”
"Review" by , "Tremendously enjoyable. Gleick has an eye and ear for the catchy detail and observation...offers a broad and fascinating foundation, impressive in its reach. A very good read, certainly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , On the eve of the theory's 100th birthday, here is the first complete biography of Einsteins theory of general relativity, revealing the personal feuds and ideological battles, the decades of neglect, the resurgence, and now, the deep questioning of a theory that has given us black holes, dark energy, and modern cosmology.
"Synopsis" by ,
A revelatory exploration of emerging trends in "big data"—our newfound ability to gather and interpret vast amounts of information—and the revolutionary effects these developments are producing in business, science, and society at large.
"Synopsis" by ,

A revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large.

Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?

The key to answering these questions, and many more, is big data. “Big data” refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena—from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books—into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalized for things we havent even done yet, based on big datas ability to predict our future behavior.

In this brilliantly clear, often surprising work, two leading experts explain what big data is, how it will change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards. Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.

"Synopsis" by , How did one elegant theory incite a scientific revolution? Physicists have been exploring, debating, and questioning the general theory of relativity ever since Albert Einstein first presented it in 1915. Their work has uncovered a number of the universes more surprising secrets, and many believe further wonders remain hidden within the theorys tangle of equations, waiting to be exposed. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, astrophysicist Pedro Ferreira brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers who have taken up its challenge. For these scientists, the theory has been both a treasure trove and an enigma, fueling a century of intellectual struggle and triumph.. Einsteins theory, which explains the relationships among gravity, space, and time, is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics, yet studying it has always been a controversial endeavor. Relativists were the target of persecution in Hitlers Germany, hounded in Stalins Russia, and disdained in 1950s America. Even today, PhD students are warned that specializing in general relativity will make them unemployable. Despite these pitfalls, general relativity has flourished, delivering key insights into our understanding of the origin of time and the evolution of all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos. Its adherents have revealed what lies at the farthest reaches of the universe, shed light on the smallest scales of existence, and explained how the fabric of reality emerges. Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and string theory are all progeny of Einsteins theory. We are in the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics. As scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory reveals the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led, and where it can still take us.
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