Prologue

“My mind wanders around, and I conceive of different things day and night. Like a science-fiction writer, I’m thinking, ‘What if it were like this?’”

— Claude Shannon (1948)

James Gleick begins his brilliant monograph The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (2011) with the story of a pivotal moment in contemporary history. In 1948, Bell Telephone Laboratories unveiled the transistor, “an amazingly simple device” that transformed our technological landscape, facilitating the waves of miniaturization that have made computing nearly ubiquitous today. At (roughly) the same time, working out of the same labs (more or less), Claude Shannon coined the term “bit,” establishing a fundamental unit of measurement for information. ...

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