What is Data?

In terms of ICT, data is simply any numbers, letters or symbols that can be entered into a computer system.

Here are some items of data:

A, 20, DOG, 3.1415927, ABC123, +++

But what do they mean? Who knows? They could mean anything!

Data values don’t have any meaning unless we put them into context (context means a setting or circumstance).

For instance, in the above example what does the value 20 mean?

20 cm? 20 minutes? 20 cats?

Without a context the value 20 is meaningless. But, if we provide a context for our data, it becomes something far more useful: information

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What is Information?

We might enter this data into a computer…

1861977905
0806973587
0806992867
1402748124
0831110848

Without knowing the context (what the data actually represents) the data is just a meaningless collection of numbers

However, if we are told that the values represent the ISBNs of books, the values now have a context.

With context, they have meaning - they are now information.

Information is

Data + Context

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