RE: Data vs. Information

From: Powell, Mark D <>
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2009 11:14:31 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Take this with a grain of salt, but your friend appears to be both over-educated and an example of the fact that you can be educated and still know nothing.  

With all attemps at humor out of the way I think part of the problem is semantics and common usage. Every field or industry specialization has its own terminology and in the case of IT many of our terms either are shared with or have become part of common usage. Your friend probably knows several terms the meaning of which changes based on what field of interest he is discussing.  

Pulling a dictionary definition from Merriam-Webster online the first definition of data is factual information. However, when you read the definition of information you will not find the term data used but rather are told that information is the ""the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence."  

In the IT field when we talk about data we generally mean what in common usage might be better understood as raw data. Some data might convey information, but often the data needs to be organized and filtered before it can be considered useful information. Placing raw data into a properly constructed set of tables would help identify information. Joins and the application of business logic to the table columns would result in more information being available.  

What if your collection of data consists of two sheets of paper each of which has only 7 number written on them and nothing else? You have raw data, but do you have information. I saw the answer is no. Without knowing what the raw data represents it is not information. There is not context as another poster mentioned.  

That is my take on the issue.

  • Mark D Powell -- Phone (313) 592-5148

[] On Behalf Of chet justice

	Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 12:37 AM
	To: oracle-l
	Subject: Data vs. Information
	I recently tried to make a case for views
<> , in the last line of the post I wrote:                  

                Records in a table typically constitute data. Tables, joined together, in a view, tend to turn that data into information.                 

        A very good friend and mentor who has like 27 masters degrees took umbrage with this statement. He said that data is information.         

        While I don't necessarily disagree with him, I tried to frame it in the context of a database. I've always been told, or read, or heard, that a database stores data and from that, you get information (in the form of queries, reports, etc).         

        Am I off my rocker here? Am I misinformed? Or just misspeak?         

        More than anything I think it was more of a theoretical discussion, but I have enough respect for this individual to give it further thought?         

        Anyone have an opinion or links on the subject?         


	chet justice

Received on Tue Sep 08 2009 - 10:14:31 CDT

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