Of course, information existed before Shannon, just as objects had inertia before Newton. But before Shannon, there was precious little sense of information as an idea, a measurable quantity, an object fitted out for hard science. Before Shannon, information was a telegram, a photograph, a paragraph, a song. After Shannon, information was entirely abstracted into bits. The sender no longer mattered, the intent no longer mattered, the medium no longer mattered, not even the meaning mattered: A phone conversation, a snatch of Morse telegraphy, a page from a detective novel were all brought under a common code. Just as geometers subjected a circle in the sand and the disk of the sun to the same laws, and as physicists subjected the sway of a pendulum and the orbits of the planets to the same laws, Claude Shannon made our world possible by getting at the essence of information.
Such a great primer on game theory—well worth half an hour of your time.
This is a really intriguing book that combines design theory and programming—learn about contrast, colour, and shapes, with each lesson supported by code examples.
It’s still a work in progress but the whole thing is online for free. Yay for web books!
A short film about Claude Shannon and Information Theory — not exactly as in-depth as James Gleick’s The Information, but it does a nice job of encapsulating the fundamental idea.
I like this theory!
Responding to Malcolm Gladwell's recent piece in the New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer argues that the strength of weak ties *does* extend to social activism.
This looks like being a thoroughly excellent event at The Royal Society, featuring Tim Berners-Lee and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.
An extremely addictive bit of fun with small world network theory as applied to music.
Six degrees of separation as applied to Wikipedia articles. Read on to find the Kevin Bacon of Wikipedia pages.
An examination of behavioural contagion in social networks.
It turns out that the brain is a scale-free small-world network in a state of self-organised criticality. Just like the internet.
The entire text of this seminal work is online in HTML, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
The spread of happiness, obesity and smoking habits through social networks.
This is required reading for anyone planning to join in the Werewolf games at the next BarCamp.
My new motto is "The Social Graph is a Spherical Cow."
They never taught this in my school.
Duncan Watts works at Yahoo Research? I had no idea! Ironically, it was Gladwell's Tipping Point that first led me to Watts' work.
The Sapir WIMP hypothesis: "The more easily you can talk about a user interface, the more easily you can understand how to manipulate it."