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

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An introduction to data and information


7.1 What have you learnt in this course?

This course began by exploring some basic issues involving computers:

  • the nature of data and information;

  • why human beings need (and want) computers;

  • the prevalence of computers in modern life.

The course looked briefly at how a computer-based society affects the average person who (whether he or she knows it or not) has a persona that consists of data about them held by many diverse organisations.

Much of this course consisted of case studies illustrating the possibilities for computer use. They raised some of the issues posed by computing technologies, such as:

  • the distinction between data and information;

  • what computers can do with data to produce information;

  • how computers can be used to work with data and search for it, control machines, and support commercial operations.

There are a number of themes running through this course.

  • Data requires encoding.

  • In order to function, a computer requires data which may be stored in databases.

  • Data has to be transmitted from place to place.

  • At the heart of a computer system there are one or more programs.

  • Many current computer systems are distributed, in that they consist of a number of computers which cooperate and communicate with each other in order to function.

  • Information has to be fit-for-purpose.

  • Security and trustworthiness are major concerns with many systems.

  • Computer systems also have drawbacks and adverse effects. They also have social, political, legal and ethical implications.

You should be able to define the following terms in your own words.

case study hit
computer information
computer program internet
computer system keyword
data parameter
database perceptual data
database server search engine
distributed system sensation
gateway sign/symbol
global positioning system (GPS) World Wide Web (the web)

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