The Cybernetics Moment Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age Synopsis
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Cybernetics-the science of communication and control as it applies to machines and to humans-originates from efforts during World War II to build automatic antiaircraft systems. Following the war, this science extended beyond military needs to examine all systems that rely on information and feedback, from the level of the cell to that of society. In The Cybernetics Moment, Ronald R. Kline, a senior historian of technology, examines the intellectual and cultural history of cybernetics and information theory, whose language of information, feedback, and control transformed the idiom of the sciences, hastened the development of information technologies, and laid the conceptual foundation for what we now call the Information Age. Kline argues that, for about twenty years after 1950, the growth of cybernetics and information theory and ever-more-powerful computers produced a utopian information narrative-an enthusiasm for information science that influenced natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, humanists, policymakers, public intellectuals, and journalists, all of whom struggled to come to grips with new relationships between humans and intelligent machines. Kline traces the relationship between the invention of computers and communication systems and the rise, decline, and transformation of cybernetics by analyzing the lives and work of such notables as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Warren McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Herbert Simon. Ultimately, he reveals the crucial role played by the cybernetics moment-when cybernetics and information theory were seen as universal sciences-in setting the stage for our current preoccupation with information technologies.
The Cybernetics Moment Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age Press Reviews
Nowhere in the burgeoning secondary literature on cybernetics in the last two decades is there a concise history of cybernetics, the science of communication and control that helped usher in the current information age in America. Nowhere, that is, until now... Readers have in The Cybernetics Moment the first authoritative history of American cybernetics. * Information & Culture * [A]n extremely interesting and stimulating history of the concepts of cybernetics... This is a book for everyone to read, relish, and think about. * Choice * As a whole, the book presents a comprehensive in-depth retrospective analysis of the contribution of the American scientific school to the making, formation, and development of cybernetics and information theory. An unquestionable advantage of the book is the skillful use of numerous bibliographic sources by the author that reflect the scientific, engineering, and social significance of the questions being considered, competition of ideas and developments, and also interrelations between scientists. * Cybernetics and System Anaysis * Dr. Kline is perhaps uniquely situated to take on so large and complicated [a] topic as cybernetics... Readers unfamiliar with Wiener and his work are well advised to start with this well-written and thorough book. Those who are already familiar will still find much that is new and informative in the thorough research and reasoned interpretations. * IEEE History Center * The most comprehensive intellectual history of cybernetics in Cold War America. * Journal of American History * The book will be most valuable as historical background for the large number of disciplines that were involved in the cybernetics moment: computer science, communications engineering, information theory, and the social sciences of sociology and anthropology. * IEEE Technology and Society Magazine * Ronald Kline's chronicle of cybernetics certainly does what an excellent history of science should do. It takes you there-to the golden age of a new, exciting field. You will almost smell that cigar. * Second-Order Cybernetics * Kline's The Cybernetics Moment tracks the rise and fall of the cybernetics movement in more detail than any historical account to date. * Los Angeles Review of Books * Kline does a valuable service tracing the contrasting fates of cybernetics and information theory. * Annals of Science * ... The knowledge offered in The Cybernetics Moment will greatly contribute to any reader seeking an enhanced or more comprehensive understanding of our present-day discourse surrounding information, while also providing a detailed and well-warranted history of the science of cybernetics. * Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship * After reading his book, it is impossible to ignore the contribution that cybernetics has made to computational models and techniques used in numerous academic disciplines, and to how so many of these disciplines- from biology and engineering to social sciences and the humanities-operated even in quantitative and social history. With The Cybernetics Moment, Kline has moved cybernetics out of the shadows of intellectual history into the limelight. * The American Historical Review * ... valuable addition to the history of cybernetics... * ICON * This is a book certain to become an instant classic for historians working in the increasingly broad range of scientific and technological disciplines over which the cybernetics moment has cast its long shadow. * Isis * ... Kline's book presents an invaluable resource that sheds light on the conceptual foundations of some of the most convincing investigations of interactions between human civilization and planetary ecologies. * British Society for Literature and Science * This is a book certain to become an instant classic for historians working in the increasingly broad range of scientific and technological disciplines over which the cybernetics moment has cast its long shadow. * Isis * The Cybernetics Moment, offers more than a compelling history of complex ways in which one specific field shaped today's information age. Kline's book also contributes to a broader interdisciplinary argument for the practice (and importance) of rigorous discursive exchange between, on the one hand, rhetoric, media, public perception, and the humanities, and on the other, the world of the applied sciences, mathematics, computers, and technology. * Configurations * The Cybernetics Moment is an in-depth study of the field of cybernetics. It is also a useful case study of how researchers clarify the questions and boundaries of a field, offering an explanation for the success of information theory and the relative lack of success for cybernetics. Finally, for scholars studying the social implications of computing, algorithms, and automation, this book offers a look at some of the first formulations of those questions and how they were dealt with at the dawn of the information age. * H-Net Reviews *