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Re: [ontolog-forum] The DIKW Hierarchy issue(s)

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 23:20:44 -0400
Message-id: <4A39B28C.9070202@xxxxxxxxxxx>
John,    (01)

Thanks for the pointer to that article about the DIKW hierarchy:    (02)

JB> A compelling paper on the DKIW hierarchy and its mythologies
 > is by Martin Frické of the University of Arizona:
http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/2327/01/The%5FKnowledge%5FPyramid%5FDList.pdf    (03)

I have heard several talks in which people used the hierarchy of
Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom.  In those talks, the discussion
of the DIKW hierarchy never added a single bit of useful data,
information, knowledge, or wisdom.    (04)

The only purpose of the DIKW hierarchy is to sprinkle some magic,
hype, or pixie dust over whatever system or methodology the speaker
hopes to sell or glorify.  I do not find that persuasive.    (05)

Following are a few excerpts from the article, which has a good
analysis that I hope will discourage anyone from presenting any
more slides with DIKW diagrams.    (06)

John Sowa
___________________________________________________________________    (07)

The Knowledge Pyramid:  A Critique of the DIKW Hierarchy    (08)

by Martin Frické    (09)

The paper considers whether the hierarchy, also known as the
‘Knowledge Hierarchy’, is a useful and intellectually desirable
construct to introduce, whether the views expressed about DIKW
are true and have evidence in favor of them, and whether there
are good reasons offered or sound assumptions made about DIKW...    (010)

The answer to be defended here is that the DIKW pyramid should be
abandoned. It should no longer be part of the canon of information
science, and such related disciplines as systems theory, information
management, information systems, knowledge management, and library
and documentation science...    (011)

Most of the foregoing criticisms can be illustrated by a simple example.
The Earth goes around the Sun (as we have learned from Copernicus,
Galileo, and others). That the Earth goes around the Sun is information.
Yet that the Earth goes around the Sun is not data nor can it be
inferred from data; it is not, and could not be, DIKW information.
Further, the question of why the Earth goes around the Sun is a
perfectly reasonable information seeking why-question. And its answer,
in terms of initial conditions, gravitational forces, and the like,
is itself information; and the answer, also, would not be considered
DIKW information....    (012)

The DIKW theory also seems to encourage uninspired methodology. The
view is that data, existing data that has been collected, is promoted
to information and that information answers questions. This encourages
the mindless and meaningless collection of data in the hope that one
day it will ascend to information...    (013)

So much for data and information in the DIKW hierarchy. The pyramid
has no foundations...    (014)

Thus far the paper has been somewhat negative in tone...    (015)

What about some positive theories? Information science has an interest
in data, information, knowledge, and, perhaps, wisdom. Are there some
acceptable explications of these notions?    (016)

The interim conclusions are these. There are many different senses
of “information”. There are even many different senses of “information”
in use in Information Science. It is not the case the one of these
senses is good, all purpose, and the others deficient...    (017)

What, then, would be the relationship between data and information?
All data is information. However, there is information that is not
data. Almost all of science is information, but, in most contexts,
it is not data. That the Earth rotates on its axis and orbits the sun
is information, but not, for most purposes, data.    (018)

Information can range much more widely than data; it can be much
more extensive than the given. The point can be made solely in terms
of logic. Data typically is expressed by Existential-Conjunctive logic,
information requires the full First Order Logic; the latter cannot
even be expressed in its entirety by the former; and, in particular, 
some statements in the latter amount to information and they cannot
be inferred from the former. Supposing that they can is the central
mistake of the DIKW pyramid...    (019)

For an account of knowledge, as explained above, Information Science
should use a propositional account of knowledge, i.e. knowledge-that...
This makes knowledge and information synonymous...    (020)

A person may have encyclopaedic knowledge of the facts and figures
relating to the countries of the world; but that knowledge, of itself,
will not make that person wise. The wide knowledge has to be applicable
to tricky problems of an ethical and practical kind, of how to act.    (021)

And the wise person must not only have wide appropriate knowledge,
but they must act in accordance with the knowledge they have...    (022)

Then wisdom is merely a matter of using that practical know how to
achieve appropriate ends. That is a reasonably defensible view —
it just does not want to be embedded in the DIKW hierarchy.    (023)

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