Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Data, Information & Knowledge

Data -> information -> Knowledge. Which is the supposed value chain.

A close look at these terms:

Data is a set of un-analyzed observations; It is 'record of something happened'
Observations on visits from visitors with and without coupons to a shopping cart
Observations on calls from customers with issues
Observations on sales by record at Reliance Digital

Information is data with a 'purpose' and 'meaning' - the purpose & meaning coming from 'summarization' and a 'context'; It is 'How you know it happened & What Happened'
Visits from email tend to buy less often than visits from affiliates
Patients with metabolic syndrome are more likely to have a heart attack than patients without

Here each of the examples is summarizing data with a purpose - and the context is important. For a web analytics person the second information above is alien as he does not understand what 'metabolic syndrome' is and for a doctor, the first statement is alien as a doctor cannot understand what 'affiliate' is :). So some knowledge is necessary to qualify information
Information cannot inform in the absence of knowledge

Knowledge is a set of recipes and contexts in which the recipes become effective - It is what is possible to do, when it is possible to do, to achieve what is it necessary to do; It is 'what to do about Information'
Because visits from email tend to buy less often, we need to focus more on affiliates
Because metabolic syndrome is more likely to result in heart attack, these patients must be given extra care

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