Is everything information? This seductive idea animates the brand-new book The Information by James Gleick (Pantheon 2011), which I just rave-reviewed in The Wall Street Journal . Gleick's book is, among other things, an in-depth biography of information theory, which the Bell Labs mathematician Claude Shannon invented in 1948 to provide a framework for improving the efficiency of communications.
A growing number of scientists, Gleick writes, are beginning to wonder whether information "may be primary: more fundamental than matter itself." This notion has inspired other recent books, including Programming the Universe by Seth Lloyd (Vintage 2007), Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife (Penguin 2007), Decoding Reality by Vlatko Vedral (Oxford 2010) and Information and the Nature of Reality , a collection of essays edited by Paul Davies (Cambridge 2010). But the everything-is-information meme violates common sense.[More]"