Book Review: The Information - James Gleick

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I picked up The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick last Christmas on a visit to the amazing Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway. My reason for buying it was part intrigue about how the author could fill a whole book about there being too much information in the world, and partly because I must admit, the cover design drew me in. It took me a while but I finally got around to reading and finished the book this week and I was so happy with the choice I made all those months ago.

The book is a fascinating read and is both a historical account of how humans have perceived, dealt with and classified information, and a commentary about where we now find ourselves in the age of the information overload. The spine of the book's narrative centres around Claude Shannon and his information theory but branches out far and wide into the annals of communication and information history. Topics covered include the effects on humans of the transition from the oral to the written word, the history and promulgation of communications technology, including the somewhat short lived French Telegram, and the ground breaking work of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Richard Dawkins, Alan Turing and many others. Concepts from Quantum Cryptography, Mathematics, Genetic Engineering, Music and Philosophy are interspersed throughout this enthralling read.

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