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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Information and Knowledge

Two almost synonymous terms, information and knowledge, which are so powerful that they underlie almost every facet of our everyday lives. However, for all their similarities, these are two different concepts whose crucial and subtle differences can be quite significant for our daily and long-term pursuits. Intuitively, one may think that knowledge is more important than information, since while it is tremendously useful to have at one’s disposal lots of facts and information, it probably will not serve you in any meaningful way unless one learns to analyse them and put them in logical order, which constitutes knowledge. This ties in with what has been established for Active and Passive knowledge, namely merely knowing something (i.e. information) in the latter sense and the ability to use what one knows to construct something intellectual and/or artistic in the former, both of which clearly correlate with one other and can mutually benefit each other, as argued in some of my past experiences. I have recently come across this graphic and provocative pictorial representation which illustrates the relationship between Active and Passive knowledge rather well:

Information, as shown in this picture, consists of various and somewhat random dots scattered everywhere, whereas knowledge is the systematic (re)arrangement and organisation of all of these dots, which may be further abstracted as intellect, namely the ability to connect factual dots and form logical and relational connections between one premise and another. This simple illustration lucidly sums up what I consider to be the very essence of the academic intellectual exercise, which may be simplified and summarised as a two-step process: 1) gather information i.e. find and form dots, and preferably as many and as big as one can find so as to leave oneself with as much background information and resources as possible 2) analyse and connect them as systematically, intricately and creatively as possible, which may generate new and original arguments. It does not get better than this, methinks.

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