Information

“Information is not knowledge”

– Albert Einstein

 

Information is a pattern of data

The root of the word “information” is “form” – information is a form, or pattern, of data. This is the first distillation of data, and can be achieved without the direct intervention of the human mind, for instance by computers applying certain algorithms. Vary the algorithms and you vary the information. So from one set of data you can get different information.

Is information the truth?

Information can be viewed as fact, and humans tend to believe facts as being truthful, but this can be dangerous. If your data is skewed, your information may not be the truth. As soon you start to measure something (collect data) you influence the process that produces that data, obscuring the underlying truth.

information is not knowledge

Information is not knowledge

We decide to use the measure of hospital waiting times as an indicator, and the immediate result is that the measurements change. This gives us information, but does not tell us what is really happening, or why, or if this change is a good or a bad thing. In fact generating this particular information makes it harder to understand the underlying issues.

Information needs interpretation

This is not to say we shouldn’t gather information, but that we should do so with an open mind, be careful how we interpret it. It is specifically this intervention of the human mind which allows us to move on from the realm of information to that of knowledge.

 

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge”

– John Naisbitt