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Information: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – March 26, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0199551378 ISBN-10: 0199551375

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199551375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199551378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Splendidly pellucid. Steven Poole, The Guardian

About the Author

Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. Among his recognitions, he has been appointed the Gauss Professor by the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, and is recipient of the APA's Barwise Prize, the IACAP's Covey Award, and the INSEIT's Weizenbaum Award. He is an AISB and BCS Fellow, Editor in Chief of Philosophy & Technology and of the Synthese Library, and was Chairman of EU Commission's 'Onlife' research group. His most recent books are: The Philosophy of Information (OUP, 2011), Information: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2010), and The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (CUP, 2010).

More About the Author

Luciano Floridi (Laurea, Rome University "La Sapienza", M.Phil. and Ph.D. Warwick, M.A. Oxford) is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire - where he holds the Research Chair in Philosophy of Information and the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics - and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford, where he directs the philosophy of information research group, IEG.

Between 2005 and 2010 he was President of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy). In 2009, he was elected Gauss Professor by the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, awarded the Barwise Prize by the APA, and elected fellow of the AISB. In 2010, he was elected fellow of the Center for Information Policy Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and appointed editor in chief of Philosophy & Technology (Springer).

His most recent books are the Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (CUP, 2010), Information: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010) and The Philosophy of Information (Oxford University Press, 2011). His forthcoming book is The Fourth Revolution - The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Our Lives (Oxford University Press, under contract).

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2010
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Leaving aside the possibility of minds, souls, and the like, people used to think that the ultimate "stuff" of the universe is matter. Then thermodynamics matured during the 19th century, culminating with Einstein's theoretical demonstration that matter can be converted to energy, thus rendering energy apparently even more fundamental than matter. Now, as a result of multiple streams of developments during the 20th century, we live in an age when information is increasingly being viewed as the true ultimate stuff. This is at once both immensely stimulating and perplexing: stimulating because the concept of information has far greater interdisciplinary unifying power than any concept which came before, but perplexing because the concept of information is very abstract and thus elusively slippery.

In this book, Luciano Floridi clearly makes an earnest effort to navigate the difficult terrain presented by the manifold concept of information, and I think he does commendably well. The flow of the book makes sense. He sets the stage by describing how information-saturated our lives have become, to the point where we can be described as "inforgs" living in an "infosphere." He then looks at the concept of information by progressing through increasingly wider contexts: information as data, the mathematical theory of communication of data, semantic aspects of information, physical information (laws of thermodynamics, Maxwell's demon, etc.
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44 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Historied on April 19, 2010
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I came to this book full of hope for a concise introduction to the field of information. What I found resembled one of those dreams when you are following someone around endless corridors without any clear idea of where they are going, and you can't quite catch up to the figure to ask them: 'where are we headed and for what purpose?' Perhaps the author's St. Cross College, Oxford founded in 1965 consists of Borgesian labyrinths? From time to time during the reading, I stopped to check the structure and content of the sentences and yes they were properly constructed sentences, and they did appear to have information content by the author's criteria. But as I resumed reading, there was a nagging voice saying 'so what?' I liked his map of the subject matter that he kept pointing out: 'you are here', but then I realized that this did not really help. Reading this book made me have no new thoughts, and being generative is one of my key criteria for awarding stars. Increasingly, I began to wonder if this is the future of what the author calls the infosphere. We will have almost infinite connectivity with unlimited numbers of deeply interesting people (and I sure from his bio that Luciano Floridi is intelligent and interesting), and we will exchange messages of considerably complexity, but with little emotive richness. Messages about messages, self referential solipsist stimulation and I am not sure that is how we want to live? And perhaps unfairly I ultimately felt like I had spent some hours in the company of a Train Spotter (called Foamer in the US) explaining the finer points of the locomotive numbering system. Phew! I did finish it. And I will go back to check I am not doing it an injustice. If someone can help me better understand the author's macro take on information, please write a review. It may just be me.
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Information is all around us. As I write this, I am sitting at my computer whish holds more pictures, documents and videos than I ever thought were possible for any single person to accumulate. Besides the word processor, I also have my web browser open, and in it there are no fewer than fifteen different tabs that point to as many different web pages. Most of those are some form of news sites, where I continuously throughout the day feed my insatiable appetite for new and relevant information. It has been remarked for a while that we live in an information age, but that statement has never before been more true. An increasing percentage of US and global economy is dedicated to the handling and manipulation of non-tangible assets and resources, all of which can be thought of as some form of information. This trend is bound only to accelerate in the upcoming years, and this is why it's important to have at least some conceptual understanding of what we mean by information in the most elemental and abstract way. In that regard this book is a very useful and informative source of the basic theoretical framework within which modern scholars view information.

One of the virtues of this book is its immense readability. The author knows how to intrigue his audience and keep it interested in various aspects of information even through some very technically advanced sections. The book is very modern in its approach, especially with respect to the topics that are covered. It covers several highly technical aspects of information: the classical mathematical definition of information and communication due to Shannon, the physical representation of information, and the biological, economic and ethical aspects of information and the forms that information assumes.
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