A further elaboration of Ackoff's definitions follows: Data... data is raw. It simply exists and has no significance beyond its existence (in and of itself). It can exist in any form, usable or not. It does not have meaning of itself. In computer parlance, a spreadsheet generally starts out by holding data. Data usually refers to facts obtained through empirical records, research or observation. Data will be processed and then become information. Data is derived from facts or events in the real world and that can be recorded. Data can be text, image, pictures or numbers in their unprocessed forms. In the application of computing knowledge or software, the word “data” means something expressed as one or more numbers, or a string of alphabetic characters, to be fed into a mathematical or logical procedure. Data thus sometimes implies what is fed to a computer (i.e. the input), while result emerging from the process is the output or information. Information... information is data that has been given meaning by way of relational connection. This "meaning" can be useful, but does not have to be. In computer parlance, a relational database makes information from the data stored within it. Information is the processed data presented in a given situation, which enables effective action. In other words, information is meaningful data which influences a decision or which is used for an action. "Meaningful" implies that the presentation of information after data processing is understandable and useful to the users. Thus the quality of information is determined by: • Data (source of information) • Data process (data analysis, data interpretation, data presentation, which determine the accuracy and mode of presentation of information) • User (Information has different value to different users)
Knowledge... knowledge is the appropriate collection of information, such that it's intent is to be useful. Knowledge is a deterministic process. When someone "memorizes" information (as less-aspiring test-bound students often do), then they have amassed knowledge. This knowledge has useful meaning to them, but it does not provide for, in and of itself, an integration such as would infer further knowledge. For example, elementary school children memorize, or amass knowledge of, the "times table". They can tell you that "2 x 2 = 4" because they have amassed that knowledge (it being included in the times table). But when asked what is "1267 x 300", they can not respond correctly because that entry is not...