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Data vs. Information

Data vs information

Objectives

This tutorial covers the following objectives:

  • Data vs information: Distinguish between data and information, and provide examples of each
  • Describe and give an example of how data becomes information

Purpose

  • All kinds of information (school records, mobile telephone records, ring tone downloads, grocery purchases) are stored in databases.
  • We interact with databases every day, consciously or unconsciously.
  • It is important to understand what is stored in a database and what can be retrieved from it.

Data Compared to Information

  • If you work in the information-technology industry, it is essential to understand how data is modeled and stored in a database.
  • If you work in any other industry, you will most likely have to work with data stored somewhere on a computer and probably be required to use data in your job to create reports and/or make decisions.

Data vs Information

  • The words “data” and “information” are often used as if they are synonyms.
  • Nevertheless, they have different meanings.
  • Data: Raw or unprocessed material
  • Information: knowledge, intelligence, a particular piece of data with a special meaning or function.
  • Information is often the result of combining, comparing, analyzing or performing calculations on data.
  • Whenever a student, teacher, administrator (or any person using a computer) interacts with a website, pieces of data are collected.
  • The website application may be unique to that school or company, but what happens in the background?

Think about test scores, for example.

  • In one class, if every student receives a numbered score, the scores can be calculated to determine a class average.
  • The class averages can be calculated to determine the school average.
Data vs. Information
  • The Oracle database software will transform recorded/stored data and statistics into useful pieces of information.
  • Data: Each student’s test score is one piece of data.
  • Information: The class’s average score or the school’s average score.

What is a Database?

  • A database is a centralized and structured set of data stored on a computer system.
  • It provides facilities for retrieving, adding, modifying, and deleting the data when required.
  • It also provides facilities for transforming retrieved data into useful information.
  • A database is usually managed by a Database Administrator (DBA).

Documents, Pictures, Video, and Sound

  • Within most modern databases, you can store and retrieve a wide variety of data and documents.
  • Inside the database, data is stored in its “raw” form.
  • When this raw data is queried or retrieved, it is transformed into more useful information.
Documents, Pictures, Video, and Sound

What Does a Database Have to do with My Everyday Life?

  • Answer: More than you may realize…
  • A lot of websites that you visit, if not all, are driven by a database.
Data vs information
data vs informationdata vs information

If You Had One of the Jobs Listed Below, How Might You Use a Database?

  • Mechanic in a repair shop
  • Taxi driver
  • Landscaper
How Might You Use a Database

Possible answers include:

  • Mechanic: looking up service records on a car; pricing a part carried by a supplier.
  • Taxi driver: use to determine distance to be driven so that an estimated length of time and cost of the tax fare can be provided to customer.
  • Landscape gardener: looking up information on plants or pesticides.

It is useful to understand the data requirements of the business you work in.

Have You Ever Returned an Item to a Store Without a Receipt?

  • What information did you have to provide?
  • Were you able to return the item?
Have You Ever Returned an Item
to a Store Without a Receipt?

Possible answers include:

  • Currently in some department stores, you can return items without receipts if you paid by check or charged with a credit card. The clerk simply types in your checking-account or credit-card number and up pops a list of every item you purchased using that payment type.

That’s an example of getting information from a database!

Terminology

Key terms used in this tutorial included:

  • Data
  • Database
  • Information

Summary

In this article, part of the database course, you should have learned how to:

  • Data vs information: Distinguish between data and information
  • Describe and give an example of how data becomes information

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