We live in a world where so much data and information is constantly being shared and made available to us. Are you conscious of the differences between the news and information you consume?
This information and data is powerful, and can help us combine various sources to make conclusions and help us make important decisions about our lives.
The sheer volume of data, information and points of view available online, for instance, can easily become overwhelming. It can also often be contradictory, incomplete, and thus lead to confusion.
In fact as we adjust our lives to assimilate various sources of data, it’s easy to see that information, data and knowledge can be used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Understanding the difference between these three concepts can help you better manage and use the information you have at your disposal.
Data refers to raw, unprocessed facts or measurements or a collection of values or statistics that could mean something. It can be numerical, such as the results of a survey, or it can be non-numerical, such as the transcript of a focus group discussion. Data is the raw material that is used to create information.
Information refers to raw facts or data that have been processed in some way. For example, a list of names and phone numbers is information. Information can be true or false, accurate or inaccurate, and it can be presented in various forms, such as text, numbers, images, or sound.
Knowledge, on the other hand, is information that has been analyzed and understood in a way that allows it to be used effectively. Knowledge is the result of processing information and data and using it to solve problems, make decisions, or to achieve a specific goal.
Knowledge (and the application of knowledge) is what we use to make good decisions. It has real value, or ultimate value, to aid decision-making, and it’s even more valuable when used in the context of a body of prior knowledge or learning from within the same sector/subject upon which the information is based. It’s more valuable still, when knowledge is formed by a user who has been trained or educated how to use the specific type of information you need or are interested in.
Knowledge is not so easily distinguishable from information and data online, and you could say that some online news and data is masqueraded as knowledge.
Whilst we live in a world that demands our assimilation of a lot of data, information and news and views, it’s becoming even more critical that we learn to discern between data, (raw unprocessed measurements or survey results for example without context), information, (data that has been processed in some way), and knowledge (information that has been analyzed and understood in a way that allows it to be used effectively).
Ultimately knowledge is the basis of good decision-making, and not so easily found within the search engines and sources of large volumes of data that have made our lives so much easier today.