Daten Information Wissen Weisheit / Englischer Original Abschnitt






Alternative Explanation

I'd like to paint a slightly different picture under the influence of a physico-chemical and philosophical background.

Data. Data is basically a mathematical description of reality. Like measurement protocols in an laboratory, access data in a logfile, image data from a digital image, coordinates of a train in time and space on its way from A to B. Data can be counted in bits and bytes. Data may contain noise. Data may be redundant. Data may be insignificant. There may be random data.

Information. I'd suggest to use information for data that has been stripped from insignificant, redundant and random elements. A random data file contains exactly zero information. It's usually enough to know that the train departed from A at the time TA and arrived at B at the time TB. If you measure a temperature of 41.381 degrees but your device is only accurate to a single decimal, only 41.4 is significant information. So Information is useful data (nonredundant data, data that means something).

Knowledge. Knowledge is when you put information to use, usually to answer questions. How do I go from P to Q using a train? If you can answer this question, you have knowledge. WikiPedia or Google may provide knowledge although there will always be some human intelligence necessary to handle it. Knowledge is information in a useful form of activation. In simple situations, there are simple answers and knowledge is a far as you can get. Take train T1 from P to R and T2 from R to Q, that's fine.

Wisdom. Wisdom is more than knowledge, it has the overall quality you need form good decisions in complex situations. When a piece of knowledge is not enough, you need to be able to combine all relevant knowledge, put it into a perspective. Then, if you arrive at the right decision with certainty ... that is wisdom. Wisdom is not about single cause-effect relationships. Wisdom is long-term. Partial knowledge may be worse than no knowledge, point into the wrong direction. Wisdom is complete knowledge applied correctly.

Of course, language is - as always - a matter of personal choice. Things just get intermingled because wisdom uses knowledge, knowledge is expressed as information and any of these is communicated as a data transfer.

When you step from data -> information -> knowledge -> wisdom, each step will need some thinking or intelligence, if only to automate the task of transformation. Action doesn't seem to be necessary in the picture. Action can be based on data (toss a coin), information, knowledge or wisdom. -- HelmutLeitner