Birth of the BIT


How the Bit Was Born: Claude Shannon and the Invention of Information

“Information is what our world runs on: the blood and the fuel, the vital principle … transforming every branch of knowledge.”

How the Bit Was Born: Claude Shannon and the Invention of Information

“All things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe… Observer-participancy gives rise to information,” the pioneering theoretical physicist John Wheeler asserted in his visionary It for Bit concept in 1989. But what exactly is the bit, this elemental unit of participatory sensemaking, and how did it come to permeate our consciousness?

That’s what James Gleick examines in a portion of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (public library) — his now-classic chronicle of how technology and human thought co-evolved, which remains one of the finest, sharpest books written in our century, full of ideas fertilized by the genius of a singular seer and incubated in the nest of time and culture into ever-growing prescience.

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4 thoughts on “Birth of the BIT

  1. This is a really interesting article Dermott …and I agree that it seems that ‘information is what our world runs on’ ….and the fundamental base of our current information technology is indeed the ‘bit’
    However, ‘Our world’ at present seems to be running on ‘information overload’
    I would argue that there is something even more fundamental that our world runs on which is not created by man ….call it a ‘fundamental energy’ if you like ….the scientists are currently trying desperately to identify and understand it ….I don’t think they ever will totally …it’s there to access but not to dissect ….the yogis called it prana …life force energy …linked to Om ….one and the same …universal energy ….the scientists are calling it ‘the God particle’
    I could go on and on about this …but I won’t …as folks tend to think am barking mad :D:D:D
    ANYWAY ….the evolving of information technology and the sciences generally at the pace they are at present is phenomenal ….
    Rather than try to dissect this ‘energy’ …if you ask me folk would be better just tuning into it …then the 2 could go hand in hand BHAM!!! ….AMAZING potential :):):):):):)

  2. Very evocative.
    I confess to not being able to formulate words equal to a response, normally I don’t use quotes however:
    “There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio….”

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