RE: Data vs. Information

  • From: "Powell, Mark D" <mark.powell@xxxxxxx>
  • To: "oracle-l" <oracle-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2009 11:14:31 -0400

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 



        From: oracle-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:oracle-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] 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

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