Data vs Information

Data vs Information

Information vs. Data

Data” and “Information” are two loosely used words in the information technology industry such that they are almost always used interchangeably. Strictly speaking, they are not the same.

‘Data’ is a basically a “set of discrete, objective facts about events” and “there is no inherent meaning in data” * Examples would be: ‘31‘ and ‘blue‘.

‘Information‘ on the other hand, can be described as a message from a sender meant to affect the perception, judgment and behavior of a receiver. The information sent can be in the form of a document, an audible communication,  or a visual object, among others.

In short, we can add value or meaning to ‘data‘ for it to become ‘information.’

Simply said, ‘information‘ is contextualized or processed ‘data.’

You can either contextualize data by interpreting it in light of the environment or purpose.

So if we say that “the sky is blue,” then ‘blue‘ ceases to be a simple data and was made meaningful by associating it to the sky. ‘Blue‘ then now refer to the color of the sky and not ‘sadness.’

December 31‘ is now more clear to be pertaining to a date, and not a very low grade/score of a failed student exam.

Furthermore, you can give data a meaning by categorizing, calculating, or condensing it.

*Davenport, Thomas & Prusack, Laurence. Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know

So the next time you use the words ‘data and information,’ you know better.


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