Data vs Information

Data vs Information

We quite commonly use the term ‘data’ in a different context. And most people believe that the terms "data" and "information" are interchangeable and mean the same thing. But there is a subtle difference between data and information.

Let's see - How information is different from data?

Data

Data is defined as the collection of facts and details like text, figures, observations, symbols or simple description of things, event or entity gathered with a view to drawing inferences. It is the unprocessed data, that contains numbers, statements, and characters before it is refined by the researcher. The term 'data' is derived from the Latin term ‘datum’ which refers to ‘something has given’. Its early usage dates back to the 1600s. Over time "data" has become the plural of datum. The concept of data is connected with scientific research, which is collected by various organizations, government departments, institutions, and non-government agencies for a variety of reasons.

Information

Information is described as that form of data which is processed, organized, specific and structured, which is presented in the given setting. It assigns meaning and improves the reliability of the data, thus ensuring understandability and reduces uncertainty. When the data is transformed into information, it is free from unnecessary details or immaterial things, which has some value to the researcher. The term information discovered from the Latin word ‘informare’, which refers to ‘give form to’. ‘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 known communication.

Data vs Information

  • Data is the raw fact, which should be processed to gain information.

  • Raw data is not at all meaningful and useful as information. It is refined and cleaned through purposeful intelligence to become information.

  • Data are simply facts or figures - bits of information, but not information itself.

  • The information provides context for data.

  • For example, 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.

  • Raw facts gathered about a condition, event, idea, entity or anything else which is bare and random, is called data. Information refers to facts concerning a particular event or subject, which are refined by processing.

  • Data needs to be interpreted and analyzed, and it is quite possible that it will be interpreted incorrectly.

  • While "information" is a mass or uncountable noun that takes a singular verb, "data" is technically a plural noun that deserves a plural verb.

  • Data are simple text and numbers, while information is processed and interpreted data.

  • When it comes to dependency, data does not depend on information. However, information cannot exist without data.

  • Data is in an unorganized form, i.e. it is randomly collected facts and figures which are processed to draw conclusions. On the other hand, when the data is organized, it becomes information, which presents data in a better way and gives meaning to it.

  • Data is based on observations and records.

  • Information is considered more reliable than data, as a proper analysis is conducted to convert data into information by the researcher or investigator.

  • Data is not always specific to the need of the researcher, but information is always specific to his requirements and expectations because all the irrelevant facts and figures are eliminated, during the transformation of data into information.

  • Data alone has no certain meaning, it is just a collection of numbers, words, and symbols. On the other hand, information, which does not lack meaning, in fact, they can be understood by the users in normal diligence.

  • Data doesn’t depend on Information. Information depends on data.

  • Data is not specific. Information is specific.

  • Data is A structure, such as tabular data, data tree, a data graph, etc. In contrast, information is a language, ideas, and thoughts based on the data.

  • It can be said that data is the raw material. Information is the product.

  • Data is not analyzed. On the other side, information is always analyzed.

  • Information is significant. Whereas, the data is not significant. It means that the stand-alone data is of no use. It means that the stand-alone data is of no use. There is no meaning that can be derived from raw data and it cannot be utilized anywhere. On the other hand, Information is significant as it has some context and provides some meaning. With the information allows taking some action on behalf of it.

  • Hence, the information is always way more useful than the data.


 

"Data" and "information" are intricately tied together, whether one is recognizing them as two separate words or using them interchangeably, as is common today. Whether they are used interchangeably depends somewhat on the usage of "data" - its context and grammar.

You can share your experiences with us in the comment section. Thank you!



Photograph by GarryKillian

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