Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman are authors of “Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar” and their newest book is “A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age.” Jimmy and Rob highlight aspects of their new book by detailing who Claude Shannon is and why he is so fundamental for our everyday lives.
Claude Shannon made the entire digital age possible. As Jimmy and Rob said, “He didn’t just think about things, he thought through things.” What made Shannon so unique? He was extremely curious about information and wanted to know about all aspects of it. He brought a lot of insights into a subject that seemingly would come from left field. Shannon was also brilliant at transmitting information and breaking the complex into the simplistic. He allowed himself to move into different fields and go wherever his mind wanted to take him but never wasting his time on an unworthy subject. He could expertly sort through what was worth working on and what was a waste of time.
How do we talk about information? How are we going to quantify information? Where did Shannon live and how did he live? Jimmy and Rob not only dug through scholarly journals to find out how Shannon thought, they also talked to the Shannon family and got to learn who he was as a father, husband and friend. When people think of Shannon’s level of genius, most think he must have short comings in his social life. Shannon did not. His colleagues, family and friends new him as a guy that barbecued, went running, and did his unreal math projects.
Another fascinating trait Shannon had was his ability to not let critics get to him. He was smart enough to know that when he did projects and knew he was right, he didn’t need to pay any attention to the critics. He had confidence that came from his kind of intellectualism. He worked on the information theory over the course of 10 years while working on other projects. By the time he had published it, he already new he was right and had moved onto his next endeavor before the critics could get to him. Jimmy, Rob and Michael end the podcast discussing how Jimmy and Rob came to write this book together and what their collaboration process was.
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