Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Royal Society Winton prize for science goes to James Gleick

This is one of my favorite books, now I have two at home. And I´m so happy to know that it´s author, James Gleick has won a prize. For those who research on fractality, this book Chaos, can´t be missed.

¨There's always an awkward moment before somebody opens the envelope and reveals the winner, and it usually has to be filled with urbane chatter and cautious modesty. I'll end the suspense now: the £10,000 Royal Society Winton prize for science books was won by James Gleick with The Information, an account of communication technology which sweeps from prehistoric talking drums to telegraph wires and the modern internet.
The awkward delay on this occasion was compounded by a television timetable: the winner was to be announced and interviewed live on Channel 4. So before the announcement, and having read out specimens of their texts – and you can have a look for yourself here – the evening's moderator, the comedian Ben Miller, called the five attending hopefuls to sit on stage at the Royal Society and engage in a panel discussion.
That is a tough call, when you are waiting to hear if you've just collected £10,000, and it must have been especially tough for Steven Pinker, whose The Better Angels of Our Nature had also just failed to bag the Samuel Johnson prize. Gleick – yet to learn that he had won – contemplated the colossal flood of information newly available at the touch of a keyboard and reminded the audience that he was addressing them on Cyber Monday ("something to do with shopping. I didn't make that up. Google it after we are done.") Paradoxically, people sometimes felt they were drowning in information. "We have devices in our pockets that instantly let us get information," he said. He saw such devices as new agencies in an old ambition to make sense of the world. "They ought to be making us more conscious than ever that information is not knowledge – much less wisdom."
James Gleick: too much information. Photograph: Mark Jenkinson/Corbis

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