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Information: A Very Short Introduction (Anglais) Broché – 25 février 2010

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Splendidly pellucid. (Steven Poole, The Guardian)

Présentation de l'éditeur

We live an information-soaked existence - information pours into our lives through television, radio, books, and of course, the Internet. Some say we suffer from 'infoglut'. But what is information? The concept of 'information' is a profound one, rooted in mathematics, central to whole branches of science, yet with implications on every aspect of our everyday lives: DNA provides the information to create us; we learn through the information fed to us; we relate to each other through information transfer - gossip, lectures, reading. Information is not only a mathematically powerful concept, but its critical role in society raises wider ethical issues: who owns information? Who controls its dissemination? Who has access to information? Luciano Floridi, a philosopher of information, cuts across many subjects, from a brief look at the mathematical roots of information - its definition and measurement in 'bits'- to its role in genetics (we are information), and its social meaning and value. He ends by considering the ethics of information, including issues of ownership, privacy, and accessibility; copyright and open source. For those unfamiliar with its precise meaning and wide applicability as a philosophical concept, 'information' may seem a bland or mundane topic. Those who have studied some science or philosophy or sociology will already be aware of its centrality and richness. But for all readers, whether from the humanities or sciences, Floridi gives a fascinating and inspirational introduction to this most fundamental of ideas. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Format: Broché
L. Floridi est une chercheur bien connu de ceux dont les réflexions mêlent philosophie et information. Ce petit livre a donc pour but d'introduire le lecteur aux différents questionnements qui portent sur l'information. Qu'est-ce qu'une information? Qu'est-ce qu'une donnée (data)? Quels sont les types d'informations? Quelles sont les théories de l'information?

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.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x9437142c) étoiles sur 5 20 commentaires
48 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x943910b4) étoiles sur 5 Groundbreaking and visionary, but very short indeed 28 mai 2010
Par Irfan A. Alvi - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Leaving aside the possibility of minds, souls, and the like, people used to think that the ultimate "stuff" of the universe is matter. Then thermodynamics matured during the 19th century, culminating with Einstein's theoretical demonstration that matter can be converted to energy, thus rendering energy apparently even more fundamental than matter. Now, as a result of multiple streams of developments during the 20th century, we live in an age when information is increasingly being viewed as the true ultimate stuff. This is at once both immensely stimulating and perplexing: stimulating because the concept of information has far greater interdisciplinary unifying power than any concept which came before, but perplexing because the concept of information is very abstract and thus elusively slippery.

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.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x943915e8) étoiles sur 5 Comparing Floridi to Seife and Luenberger 18 juin 2013
Par Let's Compare Options Preptorial - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This great little book is a quickly readable survey of information science, with an emphasis on philosophy and ethics rather than problem solving or business. Two other extremes (not counting the dozen wonderful Dover titles on information theory for under $5 which are certainly worthwhile) include:

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.

Library Picks reviews only for the benefit of Amazon shoppers and has nothing to do with Amazon, the authors, manufacturers or publishers of the items we review. We always buy the items we review for the sake of objectivity, and although we search for gems, are not shy about trashing an item if it's a waste of time or money for Amazon shoppers. If the reviewer identifies herself, her job or her field, it is only as a point of reference to help you gauge the background and any biases.
50 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94391810) étoiles sur 5 Just out of reach 20 avril 2010
Par Historied - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I came to this book full of hope for a concise introduction to the field of information. What I found resembled one of those dreams when you are following someone around endless corridors without any clear idea of where they are going, and you can't quite catch up to the figure to ask them: 'where are we headed and for what purpose?' Perhaps the author's St. Cross College, Oxford founded in 1965 consists of Borgesian labyrinths? From time to time during the reading, I stopped to check the structure and content of the sentences and yes they were properly constructed sentences, and they did appear to have information content by the author's criteria. But as I resumed reading, there was a nagging voice saying 'so what?' I liked his map of the subject matter that he kept pointing out: 'you are here', but then I realized that this did not really help. Reading this book made me have no new thoughts, and being generative is one of my key criteria for awarding stars. Increasingly, I began to wonder if this is the future of what the author calls the infosphere. We will have almost infinite connectivity with unlimited numbers of deeply interesting people (and I sure from his bio that Luciano Floridi is intelligent and interesting), and we will exchange messages of considerably complexity, but with little emotive richness. Messages about messages, self referential solipsist stimulation and I am not sure that is how we want to live? And perhaps unfairly I ultimately felt like I had spent some hours in the company of a Train Spotter (called Foamer in the US) explaining the finer points of the locomotive numbering system. Phew! I did finish it. And I will go back to check I am not doing it an injustice. If someone can help me better understand the author's macro take on information, please write a review. It may just be me.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94391708) étoiles sur 5 Look elsewhere 19 juin 2013
Par Peter Luykx - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is not so much an ‘Introduction’ (for the uninitiated) to the field of information theory, as a ‘Summary’ of it (for the initiated). If it is an introduction, it is an introduction to the jargon of the field and its categorizations. It is confusing to read that ‘augmenting appliances have interfaces that allow communication between different possible worlds . . . For example, the human user’s everyday habitat, the outer world, or reality . . . and the dynamic, watery, soapy, not, and dark world of the dishwasher.’ It is not helpful or informative to be told that ‘genes are . . . a type of predicative and effective/procedural information . . . are dynamic procedural structures.’
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.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94391900) étoiles sur 5 Thanks for the information 19 juillet 2012
Par Richard LeComte - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Floridi has written a lucid, compact and at times funny examination of the state of thinking about information in the 21st century, in all its manifestations -- from the Internet to economics to reality itself. Floridi is a philosopher, and his much more detailed book on the philosophy of information will take you much deeper into a few of these topics. I like his approach here -- for information to be transmitted and received, it has to be true, which narrows the focus of the study of information. The chapters on economics and ethics are particularly useful to business majors.
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