An introduction to data and information
An introduction to data and information

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An introduction to data and information

2.1.2 Data and information

So far, I have used two words in connection with computers: data and information. Did you see any differences in the way the two terms have been used? Let me point out one.

Data refers to discrete items, such as the price of an item on the shelf of a supermarket, or the type of product listed on a sign over a supermarket aisle. The word ‘data’ is a plural Latin word but it is generally used as a singular word in English.

In contrast, information involves linking together two or more items of data to provide an item of knowledge. If someone suddenly said to you, ‘50p’, you'd be a bit puzzled. However, being told, ‘The price of a litre of milk is 50p’, would convey information. In other words, information can be thought of as the answer to a question such as: ‘What is the price of this product?’ So the words ‘50p’ said in connection with nothing would mean little, but stated in answer to the above question would convey information or knowledge.

It's true that the distinction I've made here between data and information may seem fuzzy. One person's data could be another's information (as you will see later in this course). But for now, please work with the simple definitions given above.


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