Debi Chatterjee (Tiffin Girls' School) reviews James Gleick's 'The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood'

Participants in Worcester's Bookshelf project are all in year 11, 12 or 13 at UK state schools. They are asked to review the book in no more than 300 words, as well as to respond to the three prompts at the bottom of the page. Here Debi Chatterjee, who is studying at Tiffin Girls' School, reviews James Gleick's book, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood:


This book did an excellent job of opening my eyes to the sheer amounts of information we consume on a day to day basis by giving an in-depth insight into how information was transferred (for example the African Talking Drums) and accessed in the past and building to the current information age with google and Wikipedia providing us with easy access to all the data we could need.

I found Gleick’s conversational tone helped balance the large amounts of fact and figures being communicated to the reader and made the book much more accessible to a novice audience, allowing anyone who reads the book to have learnt at least one new thing by the end. The way each chapter focuses on a specific concept or idea and then builds on how these theories were formed provides a clear distinction between all the concepts making them all easier to follow. My favourite of these chapters war the one surrounding Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace’s ‘Difference Machine’ as it was completely captivating to me as it showed the level of creativity and curiosity that they had, writing lines and lines of recursive algorithms for a machine that did not yet exist yet to run it. Overall, although the writing style took some getting used to, the book was utterly fascinating and has definitely inspired to me to do further research into other books by this author and other books on similar topics.


Something I agreed with in this book was...

I agree with the idea that as time goes on humanity is becoming increasingly aware of the amount of information that we now have access to and transfer regularly.

Something I disagreed with in this book was...

I felt that it had a very West-centered attitude by assuming that all this information was available to everyone Earth, whereas, in fact, as a result of the digital divide, there are those who do not have access to read or make changes to the information available on the internet.

Something I learnt from reading this book that I didn't know about this subject before was...

I was not previously aware that memes and meme culture is so closely comparable to biological processes.