Why Information Grows Book Summary - Why Information Grows Book explained in key points
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Why Information Grows summary

César Hidalgo

The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies

4.1 (20 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Why Information Grows by César Hidalgo explains how information is a fundamental constituent of our world and how it can drive the growth of physical systems. It reveals how knowledge is created, maintained, and deployed in society and why some nations are more successful than others.

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    Why Information Grows
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    Information is physical order, and is completely meaningless; our knowledge gives it meaning.

    What comes to mind when you think of the date, September 11? Whether it’s your birthday, the day a terrorist attack occurred in New York City or of an upcoming exam, your mind automatically attaches meaning to the date.

    But is there anything about this date that is inherently tied to any of those events? No, of course not. In reality, “September 11” itself is no more than meaningless information.

    But what do we mean when we talk about “information?”

    Information is physical order. While we often think of information as something immaterial, like data, in reality information is physical. Sure, virtual information does exist but it’s always wrapped in a physical body, like a brain or a hard drive.

    So at its core, information is simply the physical arrangement of atoms.

    DNA, for example, is pure information. It is a physical arrangement of atoms used to build new physical orders, like a human body.

    Information, and thus the physical arrangement of atoms, exists everywhere. It’s not limited to the DNA in our bodies but it’s also found in products – in everything from toys to smartphones – which are essentially configured arrangements of atoms.

    It’s important not to confuse information with meaning. No matter what kind of information you’re dealing with, whether a strand of DNA or your bedside lamp, the information itself is utterly meaningless. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to make sense of it.

    As a matter of course, we attach meaning, derived from context and prior knowledge, to meaningless information.

    To help conceptualize this, think about the letters that appear on your computer screen when you strike a key on your keyboard. The letters themselves are simply a configuration of light on your screen – they have no meaning in and of themselves.

    However, your understanding of the alphabet gives these letters meaning, thus turning raw information into words and sentences.

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    What is Why Information Grows about?

    Why Information Grows (2015) takes you straight to the heart of the battle between entropy and order, examining the way that information is propagated and its impact on life, civilization and the universe. In doing so, the book offers a thought-provoking explanation for the success of human beings on earth.

    Why Information Grows Review

    Why Information Grows (2015) explores the fundamental principles behind the growth and complexity of information in our world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers insightful explanations on how information networks emerge and evolve, helping readers understand the interconnectedness of our modern society.
    • The book presents fascinating examples from diverse fields, such as economics, biology, and technology, showing how information shapes our lives and drives innovation.
    • Through its clear and logical arguments, the book challenges traditional views, providing a fresh perspective on information's role in shaping our complex world.

    Best quote from Why Information Grows

    Energy is needed for information to emerge, and solids are needed for information to endure.

    —César Hidalgo
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    Who should read Why Information Grows?

    • Anybody interested in economics
    • Anybody wanting to know the truth about order and chaos
    • Anybody interested in what makes our planet special

    About the Author

    César A. Hidalgo leads the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab and is an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of many lauded academic publications and the co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity (2014).

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    Why Information Grows FAQs 

    What is the main message of Why Information Grows?

    Understanding how information creates wealth and shapes our world.

    How long does it take to read Why Information Grows?

    The reading time for Why Information Grows varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Why Information Grows a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Why Information Grows is worth reading for those interested in the power of information and how it drives economic growth.

    Who is the author of Why Information Grows?

    César Hidalgo is the author of Why Information Grows.

    What to read after Why Information Grows?

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