CHI-WEB Archives

ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Bill Dehora <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Bill Dehora <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 4 Jan 2000 20:04:40 -0000
text/plain (65 lines)
| The Merriam-Webster dictionary at has the following
| Information: "(1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or
instruction (2)

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
| "tall" means. What seems "tall" to one person may be average to another. Of
| 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
| > placed already in a tree of sorts (ie it has been classified as data, rather
| > 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.


Bill de hÓra   :