Data vs. Information – Differences in Meaning
The Signal and the Noise “ The numbers have no way of speak for themselves. We speak for them. We imbue them with meaning. ” —Statistician Nate Silver in the book Data are merely 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 ).
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“ Data ” and “ information ” are elaborately tied together, whether one is recognizing them as two discriminate words or using them interchangeably, as is coarse nowadays. Whether they are used interchangeably depends slightly on the usage of “ data ” — its context and grammar .
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.
Because data needs to be interpreted and analyzed, it is quite possible — indeed, identical probable — that it will be interpreted falsely. When this leads to erroneous conclusions, it is said that the data are misleading. Often this is the leave of incomplete data or a lack of context. For case, your investment in a common fund may be up by 5 % and you may conclude that the fund managers are doing a great problem. however, this could be misleading if the major livestock market indices are up by 12 %. In this case, the fund has underperformed the grocery store significantly.
Video Explaining the Differences
“ Data ” comes from a curious Latin password, datum, which originally meant “ something given. ” Its early custom dates back to the 1600s. Over fourth dimension “ datum ” 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, ” normally in respect to education, teaching, or other cognition communication .
Grammar and Usage
While “ information ” is a mass or uncountable noun that takes a singular verb, “ data ” is technically a plural noun that deserves a plural verb ( for example, The data are ready. ). The singular shape of “ data ” is datum — meaning “ one fact ” — a word which has largely fallen out of coarse function but is silent widely recognized by many style guides ( for example, The datum proves her point. ). In park usage that is less likely to recognize datum, “ datum ” has become a mass noun in many cases and takes on a remarkable verb ( for example, The data is ready. ). When this happens, it is very easy for “ data ” and “ information ” to be used interchangeably ( e.g., The information is ready. ) .