Information: A Very Short Introduction (Anglais) Broché – 25 février 2010
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De manière concise mais efficace et intéressante, l'auteur permet à son lecteur d'avoir en main une ébauche de réponse, et de voir où la réflexion en la matière se situe aujourd'hui.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
In this book, Luciano Floridi clearly makes an earnest effort to navigate the difficult terrain presented by the manifold concept of information, and I think he does commendably well. The flow of the book makes sense. He sets the stage by describing how information-saturated our lives have become, to the point where we can be described as "inforgs" living in an "infosphere." He then looks at the concept of information by progressing through increasingly wider contexts: information as data, the mathematical theory of communication of data, semantic aspects of information, physical information (laws of thermodynamics, Maxwell's demon, etc.), biological information (a nicely nuanced discussion), economic information (emphasizing game theory and also touching on Bayes' theorem), a rather creative effort (even if not quite convincing) to reformulate ethical theory from an informational perspective, and finally an epilogue arguing for both the necessity and possibility of merging the natural and manmade worlds.
This broad scope properly reflects most of the key contempary perspectives on information. The follow-up question is whether this breadth comes at the expense of depth, and I think the answer is both yes and no. On one hand, Floridi writes at a fairly high level and thus manages to pack in a good bit of detail; this demands significant concentration by the reader and will make the book hard to follow for readers without at least a little background in the topics discussed. But on the other hand, I did find that the majority of the topics cried out for a much deeper treatment, to the extent that it was sometimes difficult to clearly grasp Floridi's key points because his discussion was simply too brief. In that sense, the book whets the appetite rather than serving up a full meal, so I'm tempted to deduct a star. But it can be argued that the book has fulfilled its mandate of providing a "very short introduction," so let's be generous and stick with 5 stars.
Since this book does a good job of introducing a fundamentally important topic in a groundbreaking and visionary way, and since I don't know of any better book for that purpose, I highly recommend it.
1. Luenberger: Information Science
David's book is about $90 US and our databases show it to be the most used IS textbook, even though it is a 2006 edition. In about 450 pages, it covers the practical applications as well as theory of the entire field of information science, from Shannon to smart phones and economics, minus the "wow how cool is IS" as well as the "we're drowning in info and can't get up" spins.
2. Seife: Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes
Also from 2006, available used for a penny on some Amazon third party offers, 296 pages.
Very Short Intro (VSI- Floridi) fits nicely between the two. Seife is a wonderful page-turner and a must have if you're into information and math. His "zero" book (Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea was a best seller, and also is about 50c used-- an awesome survey of math. Seife covers both practical problem solving and "meta" issues, but is much less thick and ponderous than Floridi, which has to be studied a little more carefully to get the nuances (not a bad thing). But Floridi isn't all "heavy" -- he talks about a researcher in the "near future" (a million years from now) evaluating our current information leaps!
All three texts cover Shannon, but Floridi and Luenberger do so more with generality and reverence, whereas Seife goes into DEEP detail about redundancy, logarithms, the relationship of amplitudes/ signals to codecs (as in Shannon's connecting log forms to entropy), etc. including a great appendix ON logs. If you enjoy math as well as story telling, Seife delivers.
Floridi is of course much more "up to date" in stats (zettabytes!) etc. since he's more current, but you don't really gain or lose anything there, since much of Floridi is about challenging and re-defining at the conceptual, ideational and definitional levels. If you want detailed, applied, usable problem solving, get Luenberger, if you want a "can't put it down" fun read that touches on the fact that we're "really" living in the Matrix, 13th floor, Tron, etc.-- Seife is the ticket. Both Seife and Floridi give that "wow" feeling that we are really information living in information for the sake of, well, information! They both adequately portray the revolutionary wonder of moving from matter to energy to information in our world view, getting more and more universal (or at the risk of induction, which they both trash-- general), at each leap.
The difference is, Floridi is dry and methodical, Seife is fun and amazing, but you need a little more "math love" with Seife on the other hand. Luenberger is, well, a text. Yes, the best text BUT I include him here mostly for the readers that are looking for less wonder and philosophy and more practical "What does all this mean for careers, business, applications, search engines... etc. All three rate 5 stars, for what they intend to be.
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Perhaps the author is well respected within his field, but he does not communicate well with the reader outside it. Disappointing. For an introduction to ‘Information’ I recommend the reader look elsewhere.
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