Working Paper Series WP04-002  
Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?

Max Boisot []
Researcher (IN3-UOC)
Sol Snider Center for Entrepreneurial Research (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

Agustí Canals []
Researcher (IN3-UOC)
Director of Information and Communications Sciences Studies (UOC)


Economists make the unarticulated assumption that information is something that stands apart from and is independent of processors of information and their inherent characteristics. We argue that they need to revisit the distinctions they have drawn between data, information and knowledge. While some associate information with data, others associate it with knowledge. But since few readily associate data with knowledge, this suggests too loose a conceptualisation of the term 'information'. We argue that the difference between data, information and knowledge is in fact crucial. Information theory and the physics of information provide us with useful insights with which to build an economics of information appropriate to the needs of the emerging information economy.


Information, Knowledge, Economics of Information, Information Theory, Physics of Information

Submission date:
November 2003 

Published in:
February 2004 
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© 2004 by Max Boisot and Agustí Canals
© 2004 by FUOC