Hans Christian von Baeyer - Information

"The explosive development of digital computing triggered the information revolution, which ushered in our computer epoch, also known as the 'digital era' or the 'information age'. Instead of ferrying people and commodities around the solar system, as we had fully expected to be doing in the twenty-first century, we traffic instead in disembodied clouds of information." p. 5
Information: what is it? I'm not sure I know much more about what it is after reading Information. In fact, after the first few chapters I was pulling my hair out and about to give up. If the entire book had been about the semantics of the word I would have. Luckily, things got better. Gradually, this book became interesting, even very interesting in parts.

How did it get better? Von Baeyer stopped focusing on the title and, instead, began discussing things like how information is transmitted and the history of science as it relates to information, both directly and very indirectly. The chapters are nice and short. And although much of the book is very accessible, I wouldn't consider this a work of popular science like some of the reviewers make it out to be.

One of the more interesting chapters deals with the Monty Hall paradox. The author's example to explain Bayesian probability assists the reader in understanding the concept instantly. Throughout the book the examples are clever and unique, at least from my prior readings. Frequently you see authors using the same metaphor. Hans doesn't seem to and his tend to better to boot.

This is a recommended, but not must, read.

from the publisher:
Confronting us at every turn, flowing from every imaginable source, information defines our era--and yet what we don't know about it could--and does--fill a book. In this indispensable volume, a primer for the information age, Hans Christian von Baeyer presents a clear description of what information is, how concepts of its measurement, meaning, and transmission evolved, and what its ever-expanding presence portends for the future.

Information is poised to replace matter as the primary stuff of the universe, von Baeyer suggests; it will provide a new basic framework for describing and predicting reality in the twenty-first century. Despite its revolutionary premise, von Baeyer's book is written simply in a straightforward fashion, offering a wonderfully accessible introduction to classical and quantum information. Enlivened with anecdotes from the lives of philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists who have contributed significantly to the field, Information conducts readers from questions of subjectivity inherent in classical information to the blurring of distinctions between computers and what they measure or store in our quantum age. A great advance in our efforts to define and describe the nature of information, the book also marks an important step forward in our ability to exploit information--and, ultimately, to transform the nature of our relationship with the physical universe.