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Data, information and knowledge

A definition of knowledge

Knowledge is the ability to understand information and to then form judgements, opinions, make predictions and decisions based on that understanding.

Knowledge from information

Example 1

Each year, for the past five years, the apple crop in Somerset has grown by 10%. The same amount of growth is predicted this year so we need to find markets for a further 10% of apples.

In this example data [data: information without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ] collected each year, for the past five years, has become information [information: data with context or meaning ] and a pattern in the growth of the apple crop has been identified - 10% year on year. This information has been used to predict the same level of growth this year and has highlighted the need for more markets. The prediction and realisation are knowledge, ie the use of information.

Example 2

The car looked like it had flat tyres and it had a pool of petrol underneath it at the back. There was smoke coming from the bonnet. I took the decision not to allow anyone near it and to evacuate the area.

In this example the judgement made and the decision that followed, ie to evacuate the area, is the knowledge, gained after assessing the available information.

Data leads to information, and information leads to knowledge.

Back to Data, information and databases index

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