Reading Responses 1/17/19

I chose to read James Gleick’s ‘The Information’ and Ronald Kline’s ‘The Cybernetics Monument’ to gain a better understanding of the topics we will be discussing this semester. Personally, I preferred Gleick’s approach to Kline’s when discussing the information age as a whole. This was in part due to the fact that his style of writing was easier to follow, but also because it provided helpful background and insight into important people such as who Claude Shannon was as well as what his contributions included. While Kline also provided helpful information, cybernetics as a whole was a bit more difficult of a concept to grasp than the background of the information age was and how it came to be. One concept that he brought about that I feel is important to touch on is the fact that technology aided in the creation of both a new economic and social order.
In Gleick’s introduction, a quote that stood out to most was when they were comparing information processing to that of a human life and how our bodies process information. Through that understanding they were better able to come up with what a definition of information could be. One of the definitions stated that “…information means something deeper now. It connotes a cosmic principle of organization and order, and it provides an exact measure of that.” (p9)
Amanda Basnight has a funny drawing that shows how computers and humans function similarly, which is a funny way of getting at points Gleick was trying to make.

Human Body as a computer

Through these readings, I think it helped to emphasize the importance of computer coding and it’s origin story as well as taking a closer look into how ‘information’ was passed on and processed prior to the information age. Additionally, Kline touched on Margaret Mead’s presence at the conference and her contributions. I think it’d be extremely interesting to see what a woman’s role during the information age looked like.

Gleick, James. The Information. p9.
Kline, Ronald. The Cybernetics Movement.
Photo from: Basnight, Amanda. “Tutorial 1: Computer hardware is like a human body”.

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