Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW): A Semiotic Theoretical and Empirical Exploration of the Hierarchy and its Quality Dimension

Australasian Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2013

20 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2013

See all articles by Sasa Baskarada

Sasa Baskarada

Defence Science and Technology Organisation

Andy Koronios

University of South Australia

Date Written: July 30, 2013

Abstract

What exactly is the difference between data and information? What is the difference between data quality and information quality; is there any difference between the two? And, what are knowledge and wisdom? Are there such things as knowledge quality and wisdom quality? As these primitives are the most basic axioms of information systems research, it is somewhat surprising that consensus on exact definitions seems to be lacking. This paper presents a theoretical and empirical exploration of the sometimes directly quoted, and often implied Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy and its quality dimension. We first review relevant literature from a range of perspectives and develop and contextualise a theoretical DIKW framework through semiotics. The literature review identifies definitional commonalities and divergences from a scholarly perspective; the theoretical discussion contextualises the terms and their relationships within a semiotic framework and proposes relevant definitions grounded in that framework. Next, rooted in Wittgenstein’s ordinary language philosophy, we analyse 20 online news articles for their uses of the terms and present the results of an online focus group discussion comprising 16 information systems experts. The empirical exploration identifies a range of definitional ambiguities from a practical perspective.

Keywords: data, information, knowledge, wisdom, DIKW hierarchy, quality, semiotics, Wittgenstein, ordinary language philosophy

Suggested Citation

Baskarada, Sasa and Koronios, Andy, Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW): A Semiotic Theoretical and Empirical Exploration of the Hierarchy and its Quality Dimension (July 30, 2013). Australasian Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2304010

Sasa Baskarada (Contact Author)

Defence Science and Technology Organisation ( email )

PO Box 1500
24 Scherger Drive
Canberra, SA ACT 2610
Australia
61396267916 (Phone)

Andy Koronios

University of South Australia ( email )

37-44 North Terrace, City West Campus
Adelaide, South Australia 5001
Australia

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