Data, Information, Ideas, Experience, Knowledge, Expertise, Wisdom – That’s how I see the trajectory

That’s how we see the trajectory

Data > Information > Ideas > Experience > Knowledge > Expertise > Wisdom

Knowledge – what you know (the nodes of the graph)
ex: Quora is a new question-and-answer service with a concentration population of interesting people.

Intelligence – how you connect and apply what you know (the edges of the graph that connect the nodes)
ex: I should request an invite to Quora and start following interesting topics and people.

Wisdom – how you learn from what you know and how you applied it (the graph of nodes and edges that makes the graph’s value greater than the sum of its parts)
ex: After having seen the great value that can be generated by a concentrated, active community of interesting people given a powerful platform to generate social content, I believe that I have become “wiser” about human nature, behavioral dynamics, etc.


  1. Data

It is Storage at the lowest level. Mostly we don’t even notice it. The rustle of your clothes against your skin, or anything that you see but don’t focus on can all be examples of data. Basically data is anything that you perceive from your surroundings.

  1. Information

It is the next step in the storage hierarchy. Information is nothing but useful data. Once we get to know our objective, then any data that we gather having relevance pertaining to our focus at the time is termed as information. So data and information are not actually that different. It’s nothing but the semantic difference that pushes information up the hierarchy.  Information has some real time semantic relevance that data does not.

  1. Knowledge

Extending the concept, I would term knowledge as useful information. So that would make it a selected portion of semantically relevant data. Just in case there’s a doubt in your mind about the difference between the three, an analogy should be of some help.

Imagine two sieves, one with finer holes than the other. Let’s these two sieves represent our knowledge gathering process. Data, information and knowledge are the pieces of clinker we wish to sieve. Now we use the first sieve, the one with the bigger perforations. The filtering operation done by this sieve can be likened to the separation of information from data. Then we use the next sieve. Now the finer apertures on this one help in selecting knowledge from information.

Thus with this sieve analogy, we can say that the ‘conversion’ of data to information is essentially a process of separation. While the next step i.e. converting information to knowledge is predominantly a process of selection.

  1. Wisdom

At the topmost position is wisdom. Wisdom, I feel is inherently different from the other three. The reason for this, I feel is that the process of acquiring wisdom cannot be reversed. Until now, all the three components, viz. Data, information and knowledge depend on the present situation. Something that is now data could be information (or knowledge, for that matter) tomorrow. Say, you have a paper on the ‘Lifecycle of a Silkworm’ to write about tomorrow. So presently, anything about silkworms would be information and knowledge to you. But normally it isn’t (unless you are an entomologist, or just weird). What I am meaning to say is that data, information and knowledge are interchangeable. It all depends on the present conditions.

I’ll define wisdom as what we get after the application of our knowledge. In a way knowledge is a resource and wisdom is a product obtained by harnessing this resource. Also wisdom is the closest to the function that the term ‘experience’ performs in the above model. Knowledge is knowing, while wisdom is understanding.

Logic helps us differentiate between right and wrong, but wisdom also helps us to differentiate between good and bad.

So on the basis of these types here’s another characteristic of intelligence:

Intelligence is the process that converts data into wisdom.

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