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Show me the Knowledge

March 23, 2011

The Internet is constructed of “stuff” that can be categorised in three ways:

  1. Data
  2. Information
  3. Knowledge

Data is the ones and zeroes that fly about the wires.  Anything and everything on the Internet is made up of data.

Information is the interpretation of the data for human use.  An example is the bytes (data) of a map that is successfully displayed as a map by mapping software.  This may be interesting but it is not, of itself, useful.  There is reams of information on the Internet.

Knowledge is the interpretation of the information for useful human benefit.  An example is, if I know where the map is representing, then I can usefully interpret the symbols to plot my journey.  There is hardly any knowledge on the Internet. How many times have you been to a forum and soon realised that the people on there have no clue?  They are providing information but the knowledge is sadly lacking.  How many times have you seen a review of a product or hotel that didn’t subsequently turn out to be true?

To provide a useful information service the Internet needs to provide mechanisms for tagging “information” as knowledge.  Google already go some way toward this.  There are only two interesting web sites on the Internet.  They are the BBC and Google.  If I type “BBC” into Google I get the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) website first.  How does Google know that I want this?  Well, it has applied some knowledge to the result set of typical Google searches against BBC and found that mostly users go to the site rather than that of Billionaire Boys Club.

I’m sick and tired (and overwhelmed) by the morass of information on the Internet.  It’s time to show me the knowledge.  I believe the next big step in the Internet will be the means to classify information so that the ignorant, the naive and lazy (meaning me on all three counts) can trust the information that we see before us.


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