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Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?


Economists make the unarticulated assumption that information is something that stands apart from and is independent of the processor of information and its internal characteristics. We argue that they need to revisit the distinctions they have drawn between data, information, and knowledge. Some associate information with data, and others associate information with knowledge. But since none of them readily conflates 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.

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Correspondence to Max Boisot.

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JEL Classification:

A12, D20, D80, M21

Correspondence to: Agustí Canals

A. Canals, Av. Tibidabo, 39-43. 08035 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

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Boisot, M., Canals, A. Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?. J. Evol. Econ. 14, 43–67 (2004).

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  • Information
  • Knowledge
  • Economics of information
  • Information theory
  • Physics of information