A Start to Knowledge

What is knowledge?

Before going in depth into what knowledge is, we have been tasked to find, what is involved in the creation of it.

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom


At the very core of information is data, or a collection of letters, numbers, symbols, pictures, and sounds. These are typically associated with facts or observations.

Data is usually differentiated into two different types of data, quantitative and qualitative. While quantitative is data regarding numerical value such as temperature levels in a science experiment, qualitative data is more concerned with the non-numerical such as what control measures were put in place for the experiment.


Thus, the next step up is information. Information is the collation of data together in order to create a series of results that can be used to create conclusions by providing context.

Although it is not considered knowledge until a person uses the information, there are a number of characteristics that businesses may use to measure its usefulness (Hoggert et al.,  2013). For instance in accounting, common characteristics include;

  • Relevance
  • Reliability
  • Timeliness
  • Understandability
  • Comparability
  • Consistency
  • Unbiased


Knowledge is formed when a person uses their already formed perceptions to create their own interpretation on the information. Henceforth, a person uses their own personal experiences and their existent knowledge to form their conclusions.

Later on in the commentary, knowledge will be segmented into different types such as tacit and explicit knowledge.


Wisdom is said to be an extension of knowledge by using a person’s own beliefs and judgements using society as its basis.

Wisdom is not easily defined and has been theorised by a number of philosophers but have been described as follows;

“A set of dispositions and skills and policies that help us deliberate what matters in life and then translate that into choices and actions.”

Valerie Tiberius

DIKW Hierarchy

What is it?

The DIKW pyramid stands for the previously mentioned components in their respective order. In essence, the hierarchy relates to the process of changing quantitative data into qualitative information. Once that has been done a person’s experience, learning and perception change it to knowledge. Knowledge is then used to make right decisions, which is typically associated with wisdom.

Purposes of the DIKW Hierarchy

It conceptualises the process of changing data right through to wisdom. Hence, it enables people learning about knowledge management and the process involved. Although it does not help in showing specific techniques into how the process occurs, it gives an outline in how people come to know to make relevant decisions based on what they ‘know’.

The different types of knowledge

Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

The most common forms of differentiating between knowledge are tacit and explicit knowledge.

Tacit or implied knowledge is the processes and behaviours that a person knows but cannot be set out explicitly through written or necessarily physical form such as machinery or tools. There are three main forms of tacit knowledge as stated by Collins (2010);

  • Somatic: Information stored in the body such as ‘synaptic connections, nerve pathways and muscles’.
  • Relational: Unspoken knowledge and social norms
  • Collective: ‘Way we work’

Explicit knowledge is codified knowledge or tacit knowledge that has been written down or encoded into ‘assets’ such as tools or machinery (Roberts, 2015). In comparison to tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge has a number of set differences. The most common differences are;

  • Context-independent
  • High volume and easy to share
  • Easily transferred
  • Objective, rational or technical

Other means of classifying knowledge


Properties and qualities of knowledge are a means to classify it into different classifications. In the case of Ferguson-Hessler & Jong (1996), they offered four different ways to classify knowledge in relation to their work in physics. These are the following based on a specific situation or ‘domain’

  • Situational: Knowledge that appears when a scenario occurs
  • Conceptual: Facts, concepts and principles
  • Procedural: Actions that can occur for the situation
  • Strategic knowledge: Guide the stages to reach the conclusion

Taxonomies of Knowledge

Taxonomies at their very centre are the means to organise information by creating categories through names and description. Therefore, a taxonomy of knowledge is merely the means to organise knowledge.

The ultimate goal for a taxonomy is to enable a more efficient and effective means to retrieve and collect information and data. Furthermore, it is said to enable explicit knowledge to be embedded more effectively as well make an organisation more aware of available tacit knowledge.


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