Big Data Maslow’s Pyramid

Created by Amy Hodler (Hitachi Data Systems) and Anjana Bala (Stanford University):


  • Data are discrete symbols that represent facts. You might think of them as recordings or statistics.
    • There is no meaning or significance beyond the data’s existence.
    • Data may be clean or noisy; structured or unstructured; relevant or irrelevant.
  • Information is data that has been processed to be useful. I like to think of it as adding the first bit of context to data relating to “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when”.
    • Information captures data at a single point in time and from a particular context; it can be wrong.
  • Knowledge is the mental application of data and information. Most consider this as addressing questions around “how”.
    • Some consider knowledge a deterministic process, which is to say the appropriation of information with the intent of use.
  • Wisdom is the evaluation and internalization of knowledge. It applies insight and understanding to answer “why” and “should” questions.


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