Data, information and knowledge

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Data is processed by computers, the resultinginformationinformationdata with context or meaningcan then be used to make decisions. You need to know the definitions of data and information and the relationship between the two.

A definition of data

Data is words, numbers, dates, images, sounds etc without context.

This is a list of data items:

  • 42
  • rabbits
  • 16:00
  • 76
  • apples
  • 09743245530
  • £40
  • seaside

Data items need to be part of a structure, such as a sentence, in order to give them meaning.

A definition of information

Information is a collection of words, numbers, dates, images, sounds etc put into context, ie to give them meaning.

For example, take these data items from the previous page:

  • 42
  • rabbits
  • 16:00
  • 76
  • apples
  • 09743245530
  • £40
  • seaside

When used to form part of a sentence they gain meaning:

  • There are42 applesin that box and each one of them has been nibbled byrabbits.
  • The fare to theseasideis£40and the journey takes76minutes by rail.
  • My telephone number is09743245530. Call me at16:00.

This is information - data put into context.

Changing data into information

A structure is needed in order fordata [datainformation without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ]to becomeinformationinformationdata with context or meaning. In the table below the second and third columns contain either 'Yes' or 'No' but without headings there is no meaning.

Stef Yes Jamal Yes Adam Yes Kieran Yes Dylan Yes Sophie No Yes Max No No

By adding headings, the data becomes information.

Student namePresentAbsence authorised Stef Yes Jamal Yes Adam Yes Kieran Yes Dylan Yes Sophie No Yes Max No No

A cashier scanning a barcode (http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/ict/images/barcode.jpg)

A barcode can be read by barcode scanners

Input devicesinput devicea device used to input data or information into a computer, eg a keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone etc.can collect data automatically, egsensorssensor:an automatic input device that continuously monitors a

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