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Knowledge vs. Information: The Real Difference

        posted by , April 15, 2013

Information is not knowledge.
~ Albert Einstein
The difference between knowledge and information is massive yet subtle.

You probably have an intuitive understanding of the difference. If you get a phone bill it's usually filled with information. If you read a great work of literature you'd probably consider that knowledge.

Definition: Knowledge

Knowledge is information and abilities acquired through human experience or education.

As information technology has advanced, the line between knowledge and information has begun to blur. A back-to-basics look at the differences is helpful to make this critical distinction:

Experience vs. Information

By definition, knowledge is information that has been experienced. This can mean many things.

Knowledge can be a subconscious ability, a thought, a conversation or information that's been improved by people. Knowledge can leverage human abilities such as imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence.

Example: Experience vs. Information

Revenue analytics show that the sales of a clothing brand declined.

The clothing brand's marketing team gather to discuss the bad revenue results. They have a long conversation and decide that the reason for decline is that their chief fashion designer has lost his touch. This conclusion can be considered knowledge because it's the result of a conversation.

High Value vs. Low Value

The term knowledge is normally only applied to high value insights. If your coworker tells you in great detail what they had for breakfast — you might consider that information (as opposed to knowledge).

Likewise, ideas that are controversial or improbable aren't usually referred to as knowledge. For example, most people wouldn't consider the theory that the world is flat to be knowledge.

Difficult To Transfer vs. Easy To Transfer

Information can be represented as data. This means that it can easily be stored and transfered by information technology or person-to-person.

Some knowledge is difficult to transfer person-to-person or represent as data.

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