Companioning information history

I have perhaps been remiss in not giving mention before now to what can be called, without much exaggeration, a landmark publication for anyone interested in information history. On the other hand, being only a year late is perhaps not such a problem for a book which will certainly be a valuable reference for many years to come.

Information: a historical companion is a highly authoritative and comprehensive overview of pretty much all aspects of the history of the concept of information. More pernickety reviewers than I will enjoy spotting the omission of their favourite topic, but that would just be mean.

Primarily a reference work, it is remarkably readable for a multi-authored work of this nature. Thirteen overview chapters give a roughly chronological overview of developments, but the main value of the books is in its series of over one hundred short essays, organised both alphabetically and thematically, and ranging from lists to networks, and from scribes to cybernetics. 

The understanding of ‘information’ here is a wide one, and goes well beyond the usual interests of the library/information sciences, although coverage is given to libraries and catalogues, reference books, indexes, and so on. It is perhaps a pity that more voices from LIS do not feature here. The scholarship of library and information history is represented by only a few of the many contributors. However, rather than regretting this, we should perhaps take pleasure in the wealth of knowledge of the history of information presented here, and the wide community who share our interest in the topic.

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