Information is an important part of our daily lives, but to make the right decisions, you have to analyze, study, classify the information and associate it with other sources of information to acquire knowledge through the use of mental faculties.
The main difference between information and knowledge is that information is organized data structures that is useful in understanding a meaning. Knowledge is the understanding of information from study and analysis or acquired from experience.
In short, information is facts provided or learned about something or someone and knowledge is the understanding of those facts or learning. Knowledge depends on the information you receive and the analysis of that information. There are other differences between the two that you will see below.
Differences between information and knowledge
The goal of information is to understand something. The goal of knowledge is to understand and know how and why. It is independent of the individual. It depends on the individual. Information by itself does not serve to make decisions. Knowledge serves to make better decisions. It’s easy to pass on. Passing on knowledge is difficult. It needs to be explained and learned. It has no meaning of its own. The meaning must be assigned by someone personally. It is easy to duplicate and reproduce. It’s inexpensive. It needs to be recreated. It takes time to learn. It is expensive. It requires data to be constructed. It requires information to be analyzed. Information is collected, waiting to be used by someone. Decisions are made, conclusions are drawn, strategies are made, predictions are made, probabilities are calculated,
A simple example to understand the difference between information and knowledge is financial statements.
When the financial statements are presented as an income statement or a balance sheet, they are a compilation of information on the structure and financial movements of the company, information on assets, liabilities, equity, billing, expenses and income, among others.
All this represents information that is presented on paper, however, in order to understand, analyze and use that information, a person with knowledge is needed, who understands how to read that information and can draw correct conclusions about the company.
If you present information to a person without knowledge, they will not know how to interpret what they read or see. It is like showing a document in Chinese to a person who has no knowledge of that language.
How to acquire information?
Acquiring information is a process that can be done intelligently, easily and quickly, otherwise, sometimes it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Today there is information everywhere and it is available in the palm of your hand thanks to the Internet.
The fastest system to get information is the internet through a search engine like Google or Bing, due to the ease of exploring a lot of information in a short time and effort, however, if you use the appropriate steps, it is easier to find what you need. search and using Boolean algebra terms, the mountain of information is reduced to the minimum expression.
Using web pages of institutions such as .org; .gov; .edu ; you can get truthful information, the pages that end in .com must be examined for their authority; since sometimes your information must be crossed with other pages, to ensure its veracity.
Other sources of information are the newspaper, television, radio, libraries, among others. For example, the library offers a great advantage because the information has been organized and you can quickly go to the section you are interested in exploring.
How to acquire knowledge?
Knowledge is something you must want to acquire and actively seek. You need to go through a mental process in order to acquire knowledge, you have to be willing to seek understanding.
Do you remember the hours you spent studying physics, chemistry or mathematics at school, you had a book full of information, formulas and data, and a teacher who tried to transmit the knowledge of how to use that information.
For example, if you paid attention to chemistry classes today you know how to use chemical formulas to make homemade soap that you can use at home, you have knowledge gained through learning.
We can acquire knowledge from a teacher, by attending school and universities.
We can look for the information, read it and interpret it correctly by asking questions and thinking about the answers or experimenting.
There is information that when reading it is understood and understood quickly, it connects with information retained in the memory, but there is another type of information that is not digestible, it is confusing, it has a terminology that we do not master, in this situation we need to look for simpler information, didactics or a teacher to help us.
A smart and fast way to acquire knowledge is to actively seek to learn from mentors, who are people who have more years of experience than you, and have the knowledge and understanding to achieve what you want to understand and do.
Another way of acquiring knowledge is through intuition, when the solution comes to our mind after a long period of analysis, and when we put it into practice we realize that it works and we can then share that knowledge.
Read more about this in the article «intuition as a way of knowing».
Data, information, knowledge and wisdom
In today’s world, a large amount of data has been collected that has been organized and structured, to become useful information available to everyone. This information is studied and analyzed to draw conclusions that become knowledge. And knowing how to make the most of that knowledge is called wisdom.
An example between data, information, knowledge and wisdom.
If you go down the street and you see a symbol that says «100 and the name of a city» that is data, that interpreted data gives you the information you need to know that there are 100 kilometers left to reach that city, knowledge allows you deduce that if you are in a vehicle at a speed of 100 km/h it will take you 1 hour to reach your destination. Wisdom tells you that it is wise to slow down because the road is rough and can be dangerous.
You can read more about “the difference between knowledge and wisdom” in the linked article.
Characteristics of good information
The amount of information that is generated daily is massive and innumerable, however the information must be known how to classify it, because there is good and useful information and bad and unreliable information.
The characteristics of all good information are the following:
The importance of information is very personal, the value and usefulness of information are very subjective, because what is information for one person may not be for another. It has to be important information for each one’s case.
Information is good only if it is relevant, that is, pertinent and meaningful to the decision maker. It depends on the topic to be discussed and the use that is going to be given to it determines the value that the person gives to the information.
Information must be delivered at the right time and in the right place to the right person. If the information arrives after being required, it may already be too late to make a decision. Information must always be present, this is seen a lot in the business world, where it is important to be informed at all times in order to take actions at the right time.
Information must be error-free, because misinformation can lead to poor decisions and erode user confidence. The information must be valid, the success of decision making depends on it.
There is a movie that reflects the importance of the veracity of the information called ” The man who never was “. It is a trap that the English implement on the Germans during World War II by creating false information, however the Germans, knowing the consequences of believing in information that has not been corroborated, send a German spy to verify said information.
Correct information format
The information must be in the correct format to be useful to the decision maker. Whether the information must be in the correct format to be useful to the decision maker. If the information is disorganized or not presented correctly for analysis, it is not considered good information.
You need to have all the information at hand to be able to use it, if it is incomplete it is of little use. For example, imagine that you have a map that contains the information on how to get from one point to another, but a part of the map is missing, the information you have is useless when a part is missing.
Information is useless if it is not easily accessible to the people who need it, in the format they want, and when they need it. Once again the information may exist but if it is not accessible, it is useless.
Current and updated
The information may become outdated, so it has to be constantly updated. Each piece of information must be accompanied by a production date in order to decide if it is useful to use it. For example, when you go to the library and find a book from the last century, you can immediately discard it because of the date, since you know that recently there is other information about it.
Learn more about what it represents and the importance of information in the article “50 phrases about the power of information” that will surprise you.
Characteristics of knowledge
Knowledge is something that the human being has sought for years and continues to seek, it is a tireless and unstoppable search to know the how and why of things. Acquiring knowledge has value and utility.
Today we pay money to acquire knowledge, we pay to go to university or buy online courses in order for someone to explain information to us so that we can understand and use it in our day to day life.
The characteristics of knowledge are:
- It allows you to make sense of and use the information.
- It is based on facts.
- It comes from learning, interpreting and studying.
- It is verifiable because by repeating the event you get the same result so it can be reused.
- It rationalizes an idea instead of describing it. It is not an information argument, it is a system of ideas that give meaning to something.
- It is useful only if it is applied. There is a saying that knowledge is power, however, it only has power if it is used. (You can read more about knowledge is power at the link).
- It can be difficult to transfer, capture, and distribute.
- Knowledge enables higher learning. The knowledge of previous generations allows new ones to build on that knowledge.
- The creation and use of knowledge is enhanced by technology.
Acquiring knowledge is possible thanks to the mental faculties of the human being: memory, perception, reasoning, imagination, intuition and concentration, these six faculties are necessary to assimilate and absorb knowledge.
If you want to discover more about knowledge, access «the 120 best phrases about knowledge» a collection of thoughts, quotes and sayings of great thinkers on the subject.
Final Thoughts on Information and Knowledge
We have seen that both information and knowledge are useful, since thanks to the information that has been collected and grouped, we can give way to knowledge to make use of that information, which must meet the characteristics of good information.
The use of the senses to obtain information is the source of knowledge, however the information that is generated daily is so abundant that it requires developing criteria and establishing in our agenda the time necessary to study and analyze that information.
Information is useful if it is analyzed and knowledge is power if it is used. Beyond knowledge is the imagination that can take us to unimaginable worlds as Einstein said “imagination is more important than knowledge”.
Research, knowledge and imagination has brought humanity to where we are, at this moment, it is like an unstoppable train, there is no going back to scientific advances, humanity is entering another era, of which we are not sure where it will take us, but the quality of life of the population will be benefited thanks to the knowledge.