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Subject:
From:
Bill Dehora <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Bill Dehora <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Tue, 4 Jan 2000 20:04:40 -0000
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| The Merriam-Webster dictionary at http://www.m-w.com has the following
definition:
|
| Information: "(1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or
instruction (2)
| INTELLIGENCE, NEWS (3): FACTS, DATA"
|

That doesn't say data is information, it says information is data. Dictionary
definitions are acyclic, no? Not that I'd be working off Webster for a
definition in the first instance.


| Data without context are still data. Of course, proper interpretation without
| sufficient context can be a challenge. For example, "XYZ is tall" is a piece
of data
| about XYZ. However without knowing the context, it is difficult to interpret
what
| "tall" means. What seems "tall" to one person may be average to another. Of
course,
| warm water feels hot to frozen hands.

That's the problem. I just cannot imagine or even suppose the existence of data
without a context. This is a bit like the 'does a tree make noise when it falls
if no-one is around to hear it' quandry. What is data without an observer? What
is an observer if not a context? My point is that you would never get the
initial statement 'XYZ is tall' without the context of an observer to
observe/note/state it and thus, at a fundamental level, context in the general
sense isn't itself sufficient to delineate between data and information. Data
without context doesn't exist in any useful sense that I can think of.


| Again, here are some Merriam-Webster definitions:
|
| Data: "factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for
| reasoning, discussion, or calculation"
|
| Context: "the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs"

Again, I don't find these definitions 'definitive'. Without descending into a
lot of observer/observed pseudo-philosophy: some form
of context (an observer?) seems required to turn not data (pre-data?) into data.
I'm not a professional scientist, but I think in science that implies
measurement/quantification of emprical observations. To me that implies a
initial context, albeit trivial. I wonder then if something can 'exist' or
'occur' without context? I continue to wonder how context is sufficient to
distinguish data from information?


| > One might argue that calling it data in the first place means that it has
been
| > placed already in a tree of sorts (ie it has been classified as data, rather
than
| > something else).
|
| Not true. See the above Merriam-Webster definition of data.

Not true according to Merriam-Webster, whom I sincerely doubt are the arbiters
of truth in this matter. Enough said.


Regards,

Bill de hÓra   :

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