Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bits, Collected // Claude Shannon

Very excited to have an excerpt from a long poem called "Bits, Collected" in The Nervous Breakdown. It's the first piece of this that's out there in the world, besides at a couple of readings with projections.

The poem begins with the coining of the term bit by Claude Shannon (who is a weird, fascinating person and was the father of electronic communication) in 1948. He did that in a paper that founded the notion of information theory that year. (He called it communication theory.)

That 1948 paper was arguably the first time that someone attempted to quantify the idea of information. Weird, right? There was a point in time when information was not something you could quantify...

He was also super into cryptography, was instrumental in the development of binary code as a way to transmit information, built chess playing machines, attempted to build an electronic mouse that could navigate mazes...he's fascinating.

He didn't die until 2001. He died of Alzheimer's and never saw how everything he did in the 30s, 40s, and 50s laid the groundwork for us all to catch up to him a half century later.

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