544 pages, 8 × 5.14 × 1.1 in
March 6, 2012
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1400096235
ISBN - 13: 9781400096237
About the Book
The author of the bestsellers "Chaos" and "Genius" presents his crowning work: a revelatory chronicle that shows how information has become the modern era's defining quality--the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.
Read from the Book
DRUMS THAT TALK (When a Code Is Not a Code) Across the Dark Continent sound the never-silent drums: the base of all the music, the focus of every dance; the talking drums, the wireless of the unmapped jungle. —Irma Wassall (1943) No one spoke simply on the drums. Drummers would not say, “Come back home,” but rather, Make your feet come back the way they went, make your legs come back the way they went, plant your feet and your legs below, in the village which belongs to us. They could not just say “corpse” but would elaborate: “which lies on its back on clods of earth.” Instead of “don’t be afraid,” they would say, “Bring your heart back down out of your mouth, your heart out of your mouth, get it back down from there.” The drums generated fountains of oratory. This seemed inefficient. Was it grandiloquence or bombast? Or something else? For a long time Europeans in sub-Saharan Africa had no idea. In fact they had no idea that the drums conveyed information at all. In their own cultures, in special cases a drum could be an instrument of signaling, along with the bugle and the bell, used to transmit a small set of messages: attack; retreat; come to church. But they could not conceive of talking drums. In 1730 Francis Moore sailed eastward up the Gambia River, finding it navigable for six hundred miles, all the way admiring the beauty of the country and such curious wonders as “oysters that grew upon trees” (mangroves). He was not much of a naturalist. He was reconnoi
From the Publisher
A New York Times Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times and Cleveland Plain Dealer Best Book of the Year
Winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
From the bestselling author of the acclaimed Chaos and Genius comes a thoughtful and provocative exploration of the big ideas of the modern era: Information, communication, and information theory.
Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs. Along the way, Gleick profiles key innovators, including Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Samuel Morse, and Claude Shannon, and reveals how our understanding of information is transforming not only how we look at the world, but how we live.
About the Author
James Gleick is the author of Chaos and Genius, both nominated for the National Book Award, Faster, What Just Happened, and Isaac Newton, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize.
“Magnificent…this elegant, insightful study reminds us that we have always been adrift in an incomprehensible universe.” –Los Angeles Times, Best Books of 2011“Grand, lucid and awe-inspiring…information is about a lot more than what human beings have to say to each other. It’s the very stuff of reality, and never have its mysteries been offered up with more elegance or aplomb.” –Salon, Best of 2011 “With his ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick ably leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another.” –Publishers Weekly, Top 100 Books of 2011“Ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical.” –New York Times “Gleick does what only the best science writers can do: take a subject of which most of us are only peripherally aware and put it at the center of the universe.” –Time"The Information isn't just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes . . . and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement." --Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing“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.” —The Wall Street Journal “Extraordinary in its sweep . . . Gleick’s story is beautifully told, extensively sourced, and continually surprisin