Let me start with the obvious: James Gleick’s “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood”
is not a light and breezy little read. Weighing in at over 500 pages and more than 2 pounds, Gleick covers the meaning of information and the value of communication across many hundreds of years, dozens of fascinating stories, a number of juicy characters and more than a few continents.
I know a number of business people who only read “business books.” As a result, those are the types of books I typically review. But, to suggest that “The Information” isn’t a business book ignores the importance of information theory to modern businesses. Sure, you’re not going to read this book and immediately have “ten tips for growing your revenues” or anything of the kind. But you will have a deeper understanding of the history, the people and the meaning that have shaped information theory from its earliest days to the present.
In all likelihood, you’ll enjoy the journey, too, as Gleick is as able a storyteller as he is a historian, bringing many of these characters to life. In particular, I was rapt by the fascinating tales of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, the triumph and tragedy of Alan Turing, and the simple genius of Claude Shannon. Each of these individuals advanced the science of information and, in many ways, shaped the world in which we live today.
“The Information” is not a business book in the traditional sense. And it’s a bit bulky. But don’t use its weight—or weighty subject matter—as a reason not to read this book. My advice: Read the book; just get the audiobook or the Kindle edition instead.
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