The Historiography of the Information Age

I think that both James Gleick and Ronald R. Kline both made very different, but informative approaches to their works. I really enjoyed how Gleick introduced the information theory in his introduction by breaking down how mathematics and engineering collaborated together in order to create a whole new direction for the world. I think that his writing explained the importance of not only the fields that were created and the discoveries that were made because of the field, but also the importance of the people behind it like Claude Shannon. His detailed approach to the figures involved and the details he included allowed for a lot of engagement with the text. Kline’s approach had a much broader scope and separated his work from Gleick’s by incorporating the effect that the world made on the field of cybernetics almost as much as how cybernetics was impacting the world around it. For example, Kline alluded to the shift in focus from nuclear science to information science in the wake of the Cold War. He continued to keep the conflict in focus while discussing the social and scientific impact that cybernetics had throughout the mid to late 20th century.

After reading the beginning of these works, I think that it would be interesting to learn more about the hidden figures that helped shape the world as we know it today. I think it would also be interesting to focus on some technology that emerged in other fields like medical cybernetics or biological cybernetics. Before these works, I was not aware of these figures or the accomplishments that they made to the world we live in today. Gleick’s explanation of the information theory really struck me because the thought that technically everything from the smallest grain of sand to the biggest galaxy in the cosmos has the potential to be boiled down to an information itself is baffling to say the least. I particularly like a point that Gleick made at the end of his introduction, “Every new medium transforms the nature of human thought. In the long run, history is the story of information becoming aware of itself.” This point really resonated with me because I’ve grappled with many different definitions for history itself; however, this is a perspective that I’ve never considered before. The notion that I, as a bundle of 6 billion bits, am on a pursuit of awareness through learning about the past is a truly intriguing concept that I will ponder further in my never-ending pursuit of historical knowledge.

Gleick, James. 2011. The Information. New York: Pantheon Books, 12.

Weinersmith, Zach. 2018. “Quantum Bits,” Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Accessed January 15, 2023. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – Quantum Bits (

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