Review of The Information, by James Gleick

At long last, I’ve finished James Gleick’s The Information: A History. A Theory. A Flood. As those of you who are regulars here know, I’ve been on a bit of a Gleick kick over the last six months, so I had high expectations for his latest work.

I’m happy to say that The Information doesn’t disappoint. This book is a tour de force, even for Gleick, who specializes in tours de force. His scope is sweeping, from Plato to quantum computing, and, as we’ve come to expect from Gleick, he gets deep into the details of long-forgotten science and technology innovations.

Review of What Just Happened, by James Gleick

I’m on a bit of a James Gleick kick right now, and before I dig into reading The Information in earnest, I figured I’d step back and write up my thoughts on What Just Happened, a collection of his technology essays from 1990 – 2001.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gleick, he’s a fantastic science and technology writer, best known for his biographies of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman…although when you’re a polymath like Gleick, “best known for” oversimplifies the breadth of your accomplishments.

During the nineties, he was at the forefront of those who understood just how profound the changes taking place to the information landscape were. He may not have been right 100% of the time (more on that in a minute), but he was always willing to see past the immediate wow factor of any given technological innovation to get at the larger implications for us as individuals, for our culture, and for society as a whole.

As you might expect, he covers a lot of ground in WJH, from the joys and frustrations of being a WinWord power user, to the radical transformation of telcos, the growth of Microsoft, the Internet and politics, the death of money, Y2K, and even the state of Internet porn circa 1995.