How to Differentiate between Data and Information

In this article, we will learn to differentiate between data and information. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably in our general conversations. However, in reality, these are two very different things.

Differentiate between Data and Information
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Here is a table for comparing data and information:

Data

Information

Definition Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis are called data. Information is data that is processed into something useful in a given context.
Example Resumes collected for a job opening. Resumes segregated location or qualification.
Significance On its own, the data is not so significant. The information carries significance in itself.
Origin First known use of data: 1646. Latin, plural of datum. First known use of information: 14th century

Data

In simple words, data contains raw facts or statistics which we have to process to get meaningful information. Data is not organized or structured, so it requires processing.

Computers and machines communicate in the language of data. This data is not useful for us until we process and structure it.  Data can be in the form of numbers, dates or readings which carry little meaning on their own. Data can be ambiguous and confusing without proper treatment.

Examples of Data

  • Applicant Data:  When people fill out forms to apply for a job, we receive raw data like name, address, contact details etc.
  • Visitor Data:  When people enter a corporate building, the security personnel at the entrance collect their data.
  • Historical Data:  Data collected regarding the history of a certain thing or place.
  • Examination Data: During the exams, data is collected from students regarding different subjects.

Information

We can say that information is the processed form of data. Information is something useful in nature as compared to raw data.

When data is treated to become meaningful, it becomes information. Therefore, we can say that information is dependent upon data. On the other hand, data is independent of information. We need data to produce information.

Examples of Information

  • Applicants’ Comparison Chart: We can process the data from the applications received. As a result, we can create a comparison chart of applicants to get useful information.
  • Visitor Report: We can process the data collected from the visitors in a building to prepare a report to segregate the visitors by type.
  • Historical Study: Historians collect and process historical data. After that, they prepare a study or write a book about that thing or place.
  • Examination Result: When tutors evaluate the data collected during exams, they prepare and announce the result.

Data vs Information

To sum up, the following are the differences between data and information:

  • We can say that data is the raw facts and statistics. In contrast, information is a detailed and purposeful meaning generated from the data.
  • A subtle difference would be that information is precise in nature, while data is ambiguous.
  • As discussed above, data is independent, while information is dependent upon data.
  • Another difference is that information is a processed form of data, while data is raw and unprocessed.
  • It can be said that data is more of a language for computers and machines. On the other hand, information is more for humans.

So, this is how you can differentiate between data and information.

Check out this article about how to differentiate between marketing and advertising.

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