There's an interesting moment (p. 248) when Shannon is speaking and just can't get people to focus on information as such — they keep wanting to get into semantics, meaning. (As I read this I found myself thinking of the way Neal Stephenson distinguishes between semantic and syntactic Faculties of philosophy in his novel Anathem.)
The Information is to some degree about this resistance, this inability that non-Shannon human beings have to see communication solely in terms of information transfer. But Gleick doesn't address this point as directly as I think he should: he tends instead to allow the confusions and elisions to be present in his narrative. Which is to some degree defensible, since that’s what real life has been like.
But let’s make some distinctions:
- information: defined (in multiple ways) here
- data: information recognized by humans as information
- knowledge: information sorted by humans and translated into human terms
- wisdom: the proper discerning of the human uses of knowledge
- counsel: wisdom transmitted to others