Information is data; it can be facts or opinion. Information can be stored on a document (like a birth certificate), on a hard drive (like the files for class) or in the brain (like 2+2=4). Information itself is relatively useless; numbers, words and pictures/symbols don’t really mean that much in and of themselves.
The human interpretation of information is powerful. What symbols and data mean and how they impact our own life and the lives of others is what’s important. Interpretation gives significance to the stimuli around us. Is the glass half empty or is it half full?
Knowledge goes beyond information and interpretation. Knowledge is an action. It combines what you do with the information and how you interpret that information. It draws on past experiences, wisdom gained from others, and the ability to adapt to present situations and circumstances. Knowledge is powerful because it can transform any interaction quickly.
The combination of all three of these elements is what I call the information-interpretation-knowledge cycle. Let’s take the example, 2 + 2 = 4 and work it through the information-interpretation-knowledge cycle. Let’s say you are at a grocery store, you are at the register and your total comes to $36.25 – that’s information. Interpreting the situation you know that you have to pay that amount. You add the amount of money in your purse (information) and you find you have $36.20 – you interpret this as being a shortage. Knowledge then recognizes the problem, I’m short a nickel and I need to pay, and begins to go to work solving the problem. Knowledge pulls upon past experiences (maybe asking someone in line, looking for a “take a penny leave a penny” change jar, finding your debit card instead) to solve the problem.
Google, the internet, smart phones, and apps do a great job at giving people information but many people leave it at that – information. We have lost the generation that can think on their feet or solve problems. Having information without being able to process it is useless.
I believe that’s one reason why people are so easily replaced by machines. Machines cannot go through the information-interpretation-knowledge cycle. They can only do the task at hand. If people become the same way they aren’t necessary and machines will do the same job for less money. Employers want someone who can problem solve when a mundane task presents a challenge or someone who can look at how things are being assembled and figure out a way to do it more efficiently for less money.
Don’t just settle for information – don’t just scratch the surface of your brain’s full potential.