Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom

These coined terms somehow become popular jargons in IT world. However, sometimes it is hard to imagine, or how to distinguish data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Especially, when the knowledge definition between the information system analysts and computer scientists is different. Here, I want to give a simple example how to understand these terms.

Data (raw, unprocessed facts):

Console Sales
Xbox One PS4
Sales (Jun 2014) 197k 269k
Sales (Nov 2014) 1.2m 800k
Normal Price (Dec 2013 – Oct 2014) $400 $400
Holiday Price (Nov 2014) $350 $400

Another fact: PS4 sales has always been dominating since Holiday 2013.

Information (gained from extracting data):

  • Xbox One defeated PS4 in term of sales in November 2014
  • Xbox One was cheaper than PS4 during November 2014

Knowledge (gained from inferencing data/information):

  • Xbox One won the sales against PS4 because of holiday $50 price-cut

Wisdom (decision to be made after gaining knowledge):

  • Will Microsoft stick to the $350 price or not to win the sales war?
  • When will Microsoft decide stop the price-cut promo?

There, it is quite easy to understand if you know how to extract which from which. How to relate this to computer world? I will use Cortana, Microsoft Digital Assistant, as an example.

Data: Your daily schedule, music you’ve been listening whole days, and some music that you’ve classified as favorite music

Information: Cortana knows that you like Bon Jovi and Aerosmith (both are rocks)

Knowledge: Cortana might suggest another rock music when you ask her “play some music”

Wisdom: When Cortana asks you to stop listening to music because you’ve been listening to music non-stop for hours.