International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

What is data and information?

The terms data, information and knowledge are frequently used for overlapping concepts. The main difference is in the level of abstraction being considered. Data is the lowest level of abstraction, information is the next level, and finally, knowledge is the highest level among all three.

Data on its own carries no meaning. For data to become information, it must be interpreted and take on a meaning. For example, the volume of the Pacific Ocean is generally considered as "data", a book on the oceanographic characteristics of the Pacific may be considered as "information", and a report containing practical information on the best way to sail across the Pacific may be considered as "knowledge".