The Difference Between Data and Information – For Dummies!

Before processing takes place, data is usually uncoordinated and random facts, figures, symbols which tend to be out of context. 1 min


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Most, if not all of us, have gotten to use the words DATA and INFORMATION interchangeably to mean the same thing. This is NOT wrong for as long as we manage to put our points across. But the two actually refer to two different computer soft states before and after DATA processing.

The difference between data and information is derived from digging deep into facts, statistics and records in analog and digital forms for reference and other electronic uses. Both data and information can be text, graphics, audio clips, audio-visual clips, code, and are interfaced via visual display units and speakers.

Data

data is usually uncoordinated and random facts

Data is usually uncoordinated and random facts

Technically, computer data is the RAW INPUT fed into the computer memory via input devices for processing. Before processing takes place, data is usually uncoordinated and random facts, figures and symbols which tend to be out of context.

During processing, raw data goes through one or several of the following steps before giving out sensible output:

  • Calculation
  • Sorting
  • Validation
  • Interpretation
  • Organization
  • Classification    

For example, when multiplying 1 and 1 (1 x 1), the raw details do not make sense until the calculation is done, and an answer is provided.

In general, raw data can be

  • Numbers
  • Text
  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Lists

Data input is usually characters, images and audiovisual inputs and arithmetic tasks which can be by-products of surveys, observations, lists etc.

Popular data input peripherals and media include:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Touchscreen
  • Gestures
  • Voice
  • Optical discs
  • USB storage devices
  • Memory cards

Information

Information is meanigful output from raw data
Information is meanigful output from raw data

Computer information is MEANINGFUL detail that is derived when raw data has undergone processing. The processing converts the otherwise out of context and raw input to contextual and organized information which makes sense.

Information is DATA that has been

  • Calculated
  • Sorted
  • Validated
  • Interpreted
  • Organized
  • Classified   

Information is thus the final OUTPUT facts which are used for productive purposes.

For example, in the mathematical task 1 x 1 = 1, computer data will be 1 x 1 and the answer 1, is what qualifies as information.

Other examples of meaningful information include:

  • Report cards in schools
  • Project reports
  • Salary pay slips
  • Election tallies

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