Data vs. Information

Data
Information

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 chart

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." 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.

Contents: Data vs Information

Data vs Information - Differences in Meaning

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).

"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.

Examples of Data and Information

"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.

Video Explaining the Differences

Etymology

"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.

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 (e.g., The data are ready.). The singular form of "data" is datum — meaning "one fact" — a word which has mostly fallen out of common use but is still widely recognized by many style guides (e.g., The datum proves her point.).

In common usage that is less likely to recognize datum, "data" has become a mass noun in many cases and takes on a singular verb (e.g., 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.).

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"Data vs Information." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 1 Oct 2014. < http://www.diffen.com/difference/Data_vs_Information >

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Comments: Data vs Information

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Anonymous comments (12)

January 12, 2014, 4:49am

Data is an unprocessd info. While info.is processd data simple!

— 37.✗.✗.173
3

June 21, 2013, 10:22am

I thanks you for writing these website. These is very useful for my learnings.

— 46.✗.✗.100
2

June 1, 2009, 9:40pm

answer the equation that what is the similarity of data and information? and send by my e_mail address tesfayemerha@yahoo.com.

— 213.✗.✗.126
1

July 22, 2011, 10:13pm

010101001110100101010 is data which can be interpreted as a greeting which then exists as information in the interpreter.
The interpreter could be human, computer or any other entity having procedural capacities which render the data 'informative'.
At this point we cannot consider the data rendered as information but only 'informative' because only procedural, algorithmic agency will be involved. Our present day computers can do this. In the example above they could be designed to recognise the above data string, instructed to recognise that it is a product of relative primes, and then to rearrange it into a quadrilateral. To the computer it would not be information,only data rendered 'informative', but to a human being it would be a greeting (interpreted from visual data on a computer screen).

— 151.✗.✗.218
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June 1, 2009, 9:42pm

data and information diference

— 213.✗.✗.126
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June 23, 2008, 7:59am

for eg . Suppose we have marksheet with us , now in this case we have marks as the data and the complete marksheet is information.

— 59.✗.✗.112
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June 23, 2008, 7:50am

this is becuase the raw data that is marks do not give any information to us , while from the processed data that is the different sorts of information in marksheet like total marks, percentage , division etc we get some information as to where the student stands in class. (at what position etc.)

— 59.✗.✗.36
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June 23, 2008, 7:42am

for eg . Suppose we have marksheet with us , now in this case we have marks as the data and the complete marksheet is information.

— 59.✗.✗.36
0

June 8, 2014, 11:33am

data refer to raw fact and figure that need to be processed in order to bring meaningful information

— 185.✗.✗.14
-1

November 14, 2012, 4:03pm

This is complete nonsense. The examples of average scores (as information) are of statistics - by definition. But then the left hand column claims that statistics are "only" data! There seems to be no generally accepted distinction between these two terms at all.

— 193.✗.✗.250
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November 8, 2008, 12:42am

sab bakwas h

— 220.✗.✗.204
-1

May 25, 2014, 7:03pm

state 5 differences between data and information

— 82.✗.✗.55
-2

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