Re: Data vs. Information

  • From: Nuno Souto <dbvision@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 05 Sep 2009 16:42:47 +1000

chet justice wrote,on my timestamp of 5/09/2009 2:36 PM:

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?

No, I don't think you're wrong. But I don't think you're right either. Let me elaborate in a nutshell.

Data by itself is meaningless. 10 is ten, nothing else.
Once data is given a context it then means something, it carries information.
10 hats is something we all can understand and relate to readily.

By a similar token, data kept in a database as a bit bucket is meaningless.
But data in a schema in a database gains meaning and therefore carries information.

When you add to that data your own view - or semantically your interpretation of that data - you are adding even more information to any that data might already carry.

I hope that makes sense. The subject can get quite complex. One thing I recommend: spend some time on Fabian Pascal's site, . I've found Fabian's text and teachings invaluable over a period in excess of 20 years and I do recommend his work to understand some of the database and data management lingo, its origins and its reasons. He's got a caustic approach to some subjects. But not entirely without humour, I think you'll appreciate his style.

Then of course: there is always Chris Date and/or Ted Codd and many others in the theoretical field of data management and organization.

One that I liked a lot and still follow and use regularly is homegrown: Conceptual Schema Design, from professor Nijssen and T. Halpin, Uni of Qld. Nijssen is one of the fathers of business modelling and absolutely indispensable to anyone wanting to learn about data management and information.

Do some searches on those terms and names and there'll be heaps of material to spend your weekend on!


Nuno Souto
in sunny Sydney, Australia

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