Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is the difference between information and proto-knowledge?

Information is unconnected elements (concepts, ideas) that are perceived regularities of data. Information can be words or numbers.

The word "dog" is a piece of information. The letters d, o, and g are arranged in a certain way to describe a certain animal. "Dog" does not describe a particular dog but rather the regularity common to all dogs. Plato called concepts "idea or ideal", Aristotle called it "essence".

"2 13 11 5 8 6" are randomly arranged data. The numbers can be arranged "2 5 8 11 13" to reveal a regular pattern (increase by +3). Mean or median could also be determined.

However, a single word or a single number (information) is not meaningful to me in isolation. I need to see them in context - their relationships to concepts I already have in my mental framework.

Knowledge is information in context, therefore in connection to other concepts. However, knowledge that is not part of my mental framework is proto-knowledge.

Information becomes proto-knowledge if it fulfills four conditions:

-The proto-knowledge must be useful to me. Therefore, I can make connections to existing concepts in my mental framework.
-The proto-knowledge must be understandable to me. The concept must be connected in a meaningful way. I need to have existing concepts in my mental framework to connect the new concepts to. For example, I must already know the language or symbols the concept is represented in.
-The proto-knowledge must be accessible to me. If the proto-knowledge is in a database that is forever closed to me, for example a federal agency confidential database, then this information might be useful and understandable, but not available.
-Proto-knowledge consists of novel connected concepts that are not yet part of my existing mental framework.

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