I can’t count how many times I’ve heard information is power. I’m sure you’ve heard it as well. Not long ago, they said that information is not power anymore, because internet opened the information for the public. So, who’s right? If that wasn’t enough, Big Data enter on the scene. What do we do with that data? Is it powerful too?
What we have here is a misunderstanding of what really means information. I remember a professor at my university who always said: Information is the result of data plus context, and information plus experience equals knowledge. I want to emphasize this:
Data + Context = Information
Information + Experience = Knowledge
At a first glance, context represents an important point in this equation. It’s the first barrier we find between having no idea what to do with data, and understanding what it means in a specific context. Therefore, having information seems interesting.
Despite approaching a problem with the right context, experience plays a vital role. Without it, we cannot assure any success. If we take the information as legitimate, we take the risk of applying it into the wrong context and ruin everything. Even worse, if results that something works once, and you don’t know why, it’s a catastrophic situation if you take that experience as valid for the next time.
So, where is the power at?
Let’s compare Facebook and Google to understand the difference of knowledge. Both companies have an intense knowledge about us. But let’s understand the edges of it. Google has collected through years millions of IP addresses and they connect them to all the data, to obtain information–thanks to a concrete context. They go even further linking IP’s to names and surnames. So, they have a deep knowledge of millions of users.
Facebook has another approach. At the time Google link IP’s to real people through patterns, the popular social network has direct access to personal information. They don’t need our IP’s. It’s more interesting to have an accurate profile with name and surname, knowing the users lives better than they do. That’s the base of their knowledge, and doubtlessly, that’s where the real power resides.
Facebook has a key factor, and that’s experience in the perfect context. They have a cutting-edge system which links information through all of their platforms, and it’s capable of understand our interests better than we do. The information they have is so precise (thanks to our conversations in Whatsapp, even from our friends) that they can develop thousands of algorithms to see what works. That experience is crucial to achieve the point where information melts with experience, resulting a powerful tool, knowledge.
Then, is information power? Let’s say it’s a raw resource. Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge lets companies take a competitive advantage. It shows the way that works. And right now, Facebook has a deep knowledge of its users.