Do We Still Worship The Knowledge Pyramid?

There are not many models that have enjoyed such a long life and wide acceptance as the Knowledge Pyramid. Also known as the DIKW pyramid, it features data as the basis and shows how information is built on it, then knowledge, and finally wisdom. Each layer refers to the lower one, using it but adding something more. It tells the story of how data is transformed into information and information into knowledge. And being a pyramid, it implies that the higher you go the better things get, that there is more value but less quantity1There are variations. In some it is not actually shown as a pyramid, in others, wisdom is skipped and in at least one popular version enlightenment is put on top of wisdom or added in another way..

The model goes together with a set of conventions about the meaning of each concept and its relations. These definitions vary but the logical sequence is rarely questioned. The most popular narrative in business is that Data are individual facts that need to be processed to generate information. When data are categorised, or interpreted, or put in context or better all of that, they turn into information. There is a greater divergence of what knowledge is, but most sources seem to suggest that if what is done to data, is done once again to information, you’ll get knowledge. It all sounds like a recipe for a delicious cake. What’s not to like?

Well, just about everything. Continue reading

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    There are variations. In some it is not actually shown as a pyramid, in others, wisdom is skipped and in at least one popular version enlightenment is put on top of wisdom or added in another way.