Data vs. Information

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There is a subtle difference between data and information. Data are the facts or details from which information is derived. Individual pieces of data are rarely useful alone. For data to become information, data needs to be put into context.

Comparison

       Data

Information

Meaning

Data is raw, unorganized facts that need to be processed. Data can be something simple and seemingly random and useless until it is organized.

When data is processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context so as to make it useful, it is called information.

Example

Each student's test score is one piece of data.

The average score of a class or of the entire school is information that can be derived from the given data.

Etymology

"Data" comes from a singular Latin word, datum, which originally meant "something given."

"Information" is an older word that dates back to the 1300s and has Old French and Middle English origins. It has always referred to "the act of informing,

Data vs. Information - Differences in Meaning

"The numbers have no way of speaking for themselves. We speak for them. We imbue them with meaning." —Statistician Nate Silver in the book The Signal and the Noise

Data are simply facts or figures — bits of information, but not information itself. When data are processed, interpreted, organized, structured or presented so as to make them meaningful or useful, they are called information. Information provides context for data.

For example, a list of dates — data — is meaningless without the information that makes the dates relevant (dates of holiday).

Examples of Data and Information

·  The history of temperature readings all over the world for the past 100 years is data. If this data is organized and analyzed to find that global temperature is rising, then that is information.

·  The number of visitors to a website by country is an example of data. Finding out that traffic from the U.S. is increasing while that from Australia is decreasing is meaningful information.

·  Often data is required to back up a claim or conclusion (information) derived or deduced from it. For example, before a drug is approved by the FDA, the manufacturer must conduct clinical trials and present a lot of data to demonstrate that the drug is safe.

 

"Misleading" Data

Because data needs to be interpreted and analyzed, it is quite possible — indeed, very probable — that it will be interpreted incorrectly. When this leads to erroneous conclusions, it is said that the data are misleading. Often this is the result of incomplete data or a lack of context. For example, your investment in a mutual fund may be up by 5% and you may conclude that the fund managers are doing a great job. However, this could be misleading if the major stock market indices are up by 12%. In this case, the fund has underperformed the market significantly.

"Data" comes from a singular Latin word, datum, which originally meant "something given." Its early usage dates back to the 1600s. Over time "data" has become the plural of datum.

"Information" is an older word that dates back to the 1300s and has Old French and Middle English origins. It has always referred to "the act of informing," usually in regard to education, instruction, or other knowledge communication.

 

 

1.     1. Explain the meaning of the word Data.

 

2.     2. What is information?

  3.Explain the difference between data and information.

   4.Give a simple example of data.

5.  Show how your example of data can be converted into information.

6. You have just completed an analysis. Explain analysis.