Data, Information, Knowledge, Whatever

“Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern. Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information. Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other information in a form useful for making decisions and determining actions. Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting. Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.”–George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

“It is fundamental to all knowledge processes that we gain knowledge by the orderly loss of information–Kenneth E. Boulding, The Meaning of the Twentieth-Century, 1964

“Information is a pattern or design that rearranges data for instrumental purposes, while knowledge is the set of reasoned judgements that evaluates the adequacy of the pattern for the purposes for which the information is designed”–Daniel Bell, “The Social Framework of the Information Society,” in Forester (ed.), The Microelectronics Revolution, 1981.

“Information can be measured, knowledge cannot. For example, the minimal number of bits needed to transmit some piece of information can be taken as a measure of the amount of information being transmitted… Knowledge, on the other hand, is a 0-1 affair; you either know something, or you don’t”–Robert J. Aumann, Econ Journal Watch, April 2005.

“Take the old distinction between ‘data,’ ‘information,’ and ‘knowledge.’  I resist making this distinction, because it’s clearly imprecise. ‘Information,’ after all, is both an umbrella term for all three, and also the connection between raw data and the knowledge eventually attained”–Thomas H. Davenport, Information Ecology, 1997.

“The quest for precision, in words or concepts or meanings, is a wild goose chase”–Karl Popper, Undended Quest, 1982.

About GilPress

I launched the Big Data conversation; writing, research, marketing services; &
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