DIKW Pyramid
I have learned many import lessons over the years. One lesson is that often the painful lessons are the most important. Here is a good example. When the stairs are icy, always use the handrail. I bet you can guess how I figured that one out. Here is another that does not involve pain. When an adult takes you aside and spends time telling you something, it is usually correct.
This last lesson may seem out of place to my four astute blog readers. They understand that I target this blog toward adults. One would think this lesson no longer applies because my readers are all adults. Also, my blog readers can probably come up with many untrue examples. It would be best if you voted for X because they are Y. That critical “life lesson” is actually a flawed emotional opinion.
The lessons I am referring to involve people we respect. X is happening in your life and Bill (yes, I can use myself as the hero) takes you aside. “I have watched you are doing X. Look, this is bad for you. If you do Y, your life will be a lot better.”
With that in mind, I wanted to share one particular gem. In Junior High, I had a great math teacher, Mr. Barr. At that time, the concept of algebra did not come naturally, and I attended several after school help sessions. One day, I was having an incredibly tough time understanding a concept. Mr. Barr understood the source of my frustration, and he took some time to explain the DIKW Pyramid. This concept defines the relationship between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. I still remember that moment with outstanding clarity and use the DIKW Pyramid in my daily life. What is DIKW?

Data is just that. Raw something that must be correlated to something else to make sense. Data can be useful, irrelevant, or essential to somebody else. To be understood, the user must put the data into context. Want some data? 25 degrees. What does that mean? No idea. We only know that something read 25 degrees. Fahrenheit, radians, or phases of the moon. Who knows?
Information is organized, sorted, and formatted data. Note that the data can be from several sources and include facts, symbols, context, and dates. We are now beginning to see some intelligence applied to the data. We are able to ignore irrelevant data. Want some information? The outside air temperature is 25 degrees Celsius right now. This information is a lot more useful than the base data.
Knowledge is how to process, use, and interact with information. We see that air temperature measured in the sun differs from measuring it in the shade. We also see trends like it is colder in the winter. We have knowledge about the temperature.
Wisdom relates to the understanding of all knowledge, and this helps us to understand why things are the way they are. Wisdom is the principal tool for deciding. We understand that while the weather has slow patterns, it also has fast patterns. It is cold at night and warm during the day. Clouds can roll in and make a sunny day cold. Wisdom is the quality that people aspire to have, and it is the key to predicting the future. Wisdom is also the key to being aware of what and who we are.
Why is DIKW so important? Sometimes we can get so stuck that we cannot see a path toward getting unstuck. DIKW allows us to understand where we are in the process and what obstacles we have before us. It helps us to answer the question of what we are looking at regarding data, information, knowledge, or wisdom. Understanding this relationship may help us organize and ask the right questions. DIKW also helps us evaluate subjects and categorize them.
Only when we have truly understood the larger picture can we hope to make a proper prediction. We are now back to the beginning of this blog. My life lessons are the foundation of my wisdom.

You’re the best -Bill
Setember 16, 2020

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