In The Information, James Gleick argues
“Information is what our world runs on: the blood and the fuel, the vital principle….Now even biology has become an information science, a subject of messages, instructions, and code. Genes encapsulate information and enable procedures for reading it in and writing it out. Life spreads by networking. The body itself is an information processor. Memory resides not just in brains but in every cell. No wonder genetics bloomed along with information theory. DNA is the quintessential information molecule, the most advanced message processor at the cellular level—an alphabet and a code, 6 billion bits to form a human being. “What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life,’ ” declares the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. “It is information, words, instructions.… If you want to understand life, don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.” The cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding. Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment” (Gleick, 197).
As we launch our semester of investigating the implications of this understanding of information, what thoughts do you have as you make contact with these preliminary concepts? Does this way of looking at energy, biology, social organization, science, literature and other arts—in a word, life— as information challenge ways that you’ve seen things before? Do you have any questions or ideas you want to explore at this point?