Information can be defined simply as meaningful data. Data are simple facts or a set of symbols, which are the basic units of information. Information is symbols with a set of complex structures and rules. In this context, knowledge is information that is interpreted or put into context. It is commonly assumed that data is needed to create information and only when we have information can knowledge emerge. When information is given meaning through interpretation, information becomes knowledge. The relationship among data, information and knowledge is often depicted as a pyramid (see Figure 1). With data at the base, it is converted to information and information converted to knowledge (Sharma, 2005).
These definitions not only appear vague and imprecise, they do not adequately describe the relationship between data, information, and knowledge. The hierarchy relationship implies that data can be transformed into information and in turn may be transformed into knowledge. However, it does not appear possible to go the other way. Obviously, this is untrue as knowledge can be used to create information and information can create data. The pyramid also suggests that knowledge is more important than information. However, it can be argued that data can be created by adding value to information, which in turn is knowledge that has been structured or communicated. Further, information and data require knowledge in order to be meaningful. In... [continues]
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