Going from Data to Information


Is there a difference? Yes, there is.

Data is raw facts, information is what happens when data is used to educate, inform, entertain, enlighten, and alert us. We have plenty of data. Information is the stuff we can use. And we're starving on that one.

We rarely want raw data, and we crave information, says Augie Ray. We still want to have access to a lot of data and content, however, it is the query set that is going to help up make sense of what we need to see — and use.

We have many social networks and tools at our disposal, however they are all very good at spewing data and lack in showing information that is relevant to us. Some of them show data you don't realize is being shared automatically, as you go about reading articles, listening to music, etc., they capture it, and store it as well. Which is why social media is like sharecropping.

A technology platform that gives you the right information from raw data is one that is built to collect the right data and content on the get go and triangulates those with the right people in your network. For filters to work, it needs to be both/and: content and people.

Being on point

I was thinking about relevance and how people are still a determinant in that. You can become a relevant filter for others often based upon your relationship, which gives you the ability to address their needs at a specific point in time.

Some random thoughts on the interplay of content discovery and people:

  • There are plenty of ways to access high quality content online. I'm constantly discovering new sources thanks to my current RSS feeds, the topics I select on apps like Zite and Flipboard, as well as threads on Google+. There are also sites where you can find manifestos. And much more.
  • Getting the right mix of things that feel familiar and things that provide a more challenging perspective is a question we all face. Would we rather spend time agreeing, disagreeing, or learning? Do we widen the scope of our quest, or do we stick with mastering one thing?
  • Much of my sharing is actually not over social networks. Being highly relevant is important to me. And there are still no better substitutes to email for exchanges of that nature. Email is my most used tool for sharing. I add commentary as to why I am sharing a specific link to an article or research paper.
  • The best discussions I have had have been in response to the newsletter I started sending in June. That was both surprising — I  have shared so much actionable content here over the years — and refreshing — a more intimate setting like a one-to-one exchange is a really good alternative to the hyper activity and promiscuity of many social networks.

Being on point is a good path for developing data into information you can use to draw insights specific to your case. I'm a big believer in blogging and sharing in an open forum, in joining active groups to help advance topics, share resources, etc.

However, I found that integrating small mastermind circles of people who have similar goals and work ethics to public sharing is more productive and rewarding for every member of the group, including me.

People who have a high level of commitment to themselves usually come through for others.


As you know, the ratio of invisible readers to active participants in a network is highly unbalanced. Have you heard the term 1 percenter?

Given that it's much easier to say yes to people when they have taken the time to develop a relationship with you, clearly your own participation and involvement also determines how others respond to you.

What inspires the biggest ah-has in my work continues to be the relationships between people and things. I'm curious to learn how you bridge the distance between what you find and what you can use, in addition to being your own filter, of course.


[image thought starter from a a great conversation at Information is Beautiful]

0 responses to “Going from Data to Information”

  1. Great piece here… I randomly left WEB 2.0 Summit ~ http://goo.gl/pDUjM ~ on live stream on secondary monitor the other day… and most of the players talked fundamentally about the interaction/engagement of those within’ the data. Good direction here…

  2. Data is the WHAT.
    Knowledge is the HOW.
    Wisdom is the WHY.
    Those who push data without speaking to how and why it matters face an uphill struggle. Nobody cares about data without context. People want to be connected with ideas – not data. This is the relationship.

  3. Agreed. The connection with the idea (promise) is the relationship. That’s what people want; to feel their purchase matters to the business, that they are supporting an ideology.

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