You probably know both words and probably use them interchangeably in your everyday life, but there’s actually a small but meaningful difference that is better to keep in mind.

Let’s start from some examples of data.

  • 72
  • 69
  • 76
  • 76
  • 79
  • 33

We can confindently say that these are numbers, but do you know what they mean? They could be ages of a group of people, they could be measurements of some objects, they could be some kind of temeperatures.

We lack a key to understanding the meaning of data. Data is always raw and cannot be used without the right interpretation.

Information on the other hand is data provided with a reading key that allows to know the right interpretation. Computers work with numbers so you can understand that it is essential to know their interpretation.

ASCII

As we have seen above there are several possible interpretations, but none of them is the one I used when writing them down. I actually used ASCII table to pick the numbers.

What is ASCII you say?
It means American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Basically it is a table that maps numbers to letters and other symbols. If you check the numbers on the table you will see that those data above, if read through ASCII codification is actually a text message!

  • 72 ⮕ H
  • 69 ⮕ E
  • 76 ⮕ L
  • 76 ⮕ L
  • 79 ⮕ O
  • 33 ⮕ !

Today software uses Unicode to represent text and numbers are actually saved as binary code on computers but that’s a completely different story for another post.