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    The wisdom hierarchy: representations of the DIKW hierarchy

    Rowley, Jennifer (2007) The wisdom hierarchy: representations of the DIKW hierarchy. Journal of Information Science, 33 (2). pp. 163-180. ISSN 0165-5515

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    This paper revisits the data–information–knowledge–wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy by examining the articulation of the hierarchy in a number of widely read textbooks, and analysing their statements about the nature of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. The hierarchy referred to variously as the ‘Knowledge Hierarchy’, the ‘Information Hierarchy’ and the ‘Knowledge Pyramid’ is one of the fundamental, widely recognized and ‘taken-for-granted’ models in the information and knowledge literatures. It is often quoted, or used implicitly, in definitions of data, information and knowledge in the information management, information systems and knowledge management literatures, but there has been limited direct discussion of the hierarchy. After revisiting Ackoff’s original articulation of the hierarchy, definitions of data, information, knowledge and wisdom as articulated in recent textbooks in information systems and knowledge management are reviewed and assessed, in pursuit of a consensus on definitions and transformation processes. This process brings to the surface the extent of agreement and dissent in relation to these definitions, and provides a basis for a discussion as to whether these articulations present an adequate distinction between data, information, and knowledge. Typically information is defined in terms of data, knowledge in terms of information, and wisdom in terms of knowledge, but there is less consensus in the description of the processes that transform elements lower in the hierarchy into those above them, leading to a lack of definitional clarity. In addition, there is limited reference to wisdom in these texts.

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