544 pages, 9.66 × 6.74 × 1.85 in
April 3, 2013
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0375423729
ISBN - 13: 9780375423727
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
[Due to the limitations of our website, tables and images have been removed from the text of this excerpt. Please see the final bound book for the complete text.] Chapter 4 To Throw the Powers of Thought into Wheel-Work (Lo, the Raptured Arithmetician) Light almost solar has been extracted from the refuse of ﬁsh; ﬁ re has been sifted by the lamp of Davy; and machinery has been taught arithmetic instead of poetry. —Charles Babbage (1832) No one doubted that Charles Babbage was brilliant. Nor did anyone quite understand the nature of his genius, which remained out of focus for a long time. What did he hope to achieve? For that matter, what, exactly, was his vocation? On his death in London in 1871 the Times obituarist declared him “one of the most active and original of original thinkers” but seemed to feel he was best known for his long, cranky crusade against street musicians and organ-grinders. He might not have minded. He was multifarious and took pride in it. “He showed great desire to inquire into the causes of things that astonish childish minds,” said an American eulogist. “He eviscerated toys to ascertain their manner of working.” Babbage did not quite belong in his time, which called itself the Steam Age or the Machine Age. He did revel in the uses of steam and machinery and considered himself a thoroughly modern man, but he also pursued an assortment of hobbies and obsessions—cipher cracking, lock picking, lighthouses, tree rings, the post—whose logic became cl
From the Publisher
James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, now brings us a work just as astonishing and masterly: a revelatory chronicle and meditation that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.
The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanishes as soon as it is born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa, Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the brilliant and doomed daughter of the poet, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself.
And then the information age arrives. Citizens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficionados of bits and bytes. And we sometimes feel we are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading.
About the Author
James Gleick is our leading chronicler of science and modern technology. His first book, Chaos, a National Book Award finalist, has been translated into twenty-five languages. His best-selling biographies, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and Isaac Newton, were short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize.
“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 “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.” –New York Times “[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.” –Booklist, starred review “With his brilliant ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick leads us on a journey from one form of communication information to another…Gleick’s exceptional history of culture concludes that information is indeed the blood, the fuel, and the vital principle on which our world runs.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review“Rich and fascinating.” –Washington Post "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