The man who turned paper into pixels

How our digital world was born and how it works

It was the change that no-one saw coming: the idea that we could take a book, a painting or a song and send it through cables and wires and even thin air to the other end of the world — and it would be identical on the other side.

But this idea underpins everything about the Information Age we live in.
How did we make such a mind bending transition into the digital world? And how does it work? It turns out it’s all based on a concept that is surprisingly beautiful in its simplicity. This short video essay explores what that idea is and tells you about the man who figured it all out.
Computers are everywhere and control almost every aspect of our lives. In the next 6 minutes you’ll find out how they really work.

Delve deeper

Curious? Read Andrew Lih’s quick explanation of Information Theory (2 minutes).

Even more interested? Spend an hour learning Information Theory with this Cambridge University Professor.

Super interested? Read “Information: a history, a theory, a flood” by James Gleick.

A maths person? Read Claude Shannon’s original 1948 paper which changed the world [pdf].

This video essay was produced by Adam Westbrook for Find out more about the project.

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