Visualization pyramid scheme

The Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) pyramid is often invoked to describe the value of information visualization. The suggestion is that by properly processing, sorting, and encoding ‘data’, it can move up a value pyramid from mere data to information (which is data made useful). Then, through some additional magical processes this information can become knowledge and ultimately contribute to wisdom.

While this description of the process of creating value from data has rhetorical charm, it does not stand up to close inspection. The problems comes from the fact that the meaning of the terms data, information, knowledge and wisdom are not consistent with their usage in this pyramid scheme. Continue reading