The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

I want to recommend the book The Information:  A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. You might recall that Gleick wrote the well read book Chaos:  Making a New Science a few years back.   Having an education in Electrical Engineering, the ideas around information moving through communication channels was familiar ground and I really enjoyed covering it again in a much lighter fashion than in EE school. But the other content on codes, encryption, genetics and the explosion of information on the internet was just fascinating. I read this on Kindle but then bought a copy for my bookshelf as I know I’ll take a look at it over and over again. Buying the “book” plus this recommendations are about the highest compliments I can give it.

IT shops are seeing an ongoing explosion in data collection with resulting data storage growth and we are supporting the business with better analysis tools to turn that data into information. Individual users are creating and storing more information too. Our networks are moving more data and none of these trends are likely to slow down. It seems important to understand the difference between just data (and noise) versus information.  The idea that “information is uncertainty, surprise, difficulty, and entropy” on page 219 and the ideas around here are great.   If I tell you something you already know, then there is no information transmitted.

I’m currently watching 229 different pages/blogs/sites via Google Reader which have around 1000 updates a day. Couple that with Twitter, Facebook, personal email and company email and there is a LOT of information (and noise) passing by every day. I’m convinced this is changing the way I think and so I’m off reading  The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I’m about 1/2 way through and love it. More on that later.

5 thoughts on “The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood”

  1. Stu, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve read that book and I heard him speak at the last Gartner Symposium in Florida. Very good stuff. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Steve, who knows? I do use google reader to track the RSS feeds and then I use Reeder on the iphone to sync with google reader so I can read anywhere and sync what I’ve read. However, I really scan through the headlines quickly and read deeper the ones that sound interesting. Some days, I can’t keep up… Today I think was one of those days.

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