16 March 2007

Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom

Understanding the difference between data, information, knowledge and even wisdom, and how a designer can participate in the transformation from one to the other, is a critical part of creating learning experiences.

Allow me to coin a phrase (originally invented by my endocrinologist, Dr. John O'Dae) -- we're now living in a society characterized by data-rich ignorance.

Have you ever spent hours on a Google hunt searching for some holy grail of an answer only to come out with loads more data, and loads more confusion? We've never had so much information accessible to us so easy, but does it lead to more knowledge, better understanding or more wisdom? We do know it leads to information overload, information anxiety and interesting new conditions like cybercondria. (eg. "I'm freaking out, I think I might have cybercondria")

But it's not all bad news.
After all, there are also those times when you do find that grail googling, and you learn something along the way.

As designers our mission is to organize this data better, help transform it into meaningful information, help prevent the overload, and use it for experiences that facilitate learning.

The article Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design [pdf] presents an interesting look at data, information, knowledge, and wisdom and how the roles of information design, interaction design and sensorial design come together equally for all forms of communication from web and tv to performance - to create what, in essence, are learning experiences. Check it out.

- "What do you do?"
- "Oh I'm a designer...I'm like a big can of bug spray for the nasty infestation of data-rich ignorance."
-"...right.......would you look at the time?"