DIKW Pyramid

The DIKW pyramid, also known variously as the DIKW hierarchy, wisdom hierarchy, knowledge hierarchy, information hierarchy, and the data pyramid,[1] refers loosely to a class of models[2] for representing purported structural and/or functional relationships between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. "Typically information is defined in terms of data, knowledge in terms of information, and wisdom in terms of knowledge".[1]

Not all versions of the DIKW model reference all four components (earlier versions not including data, later versions omitting or downplaying wisdom), and some include additional components. In addition to a hierarchy and a pyramid, the DIKW model has also been characterized as a chain,[3][4] as a framework,[5] as a series of graphs,[6] and as a continuum.[7]

History Danny P. Wallace, a professor of library and information science, explained that the origin of the DIKW pyramid is uncertain:

The presentation of the relationships among data, information, knowledge, and sometimes wisdom in a hierarchical arrangement has been part of the language of information science for many years. Although it is uncertain when and by whom those relationships were first presented, the ubiquity of the notion of a hierarchy is embedded in the use of the acronym DIKW as a shorthand representation for the data-to-information-to-knowledge-to-wisdom transformation.[8]

Data, Information, Knowledge

In 1955, English-American economist and educator Kenneth Boulding presented a variation on the hierarchy consisting of "signals, messages, information, and knowledge".[8][9] However, "[t]he first author to distinguish among data, information, and knowledge and to also employ the term 'knowledge management' may have been American educator Nicholas L. Henry",[8] in a 1974 journal article.[10]

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

Other early versions (prior to 1982) of the hierarchy that refer to a data tier include those of Chinese-American geographer Yi-Fu Tuan[11][verification needed][12] and sociologist-historian Daniel Bell.[11][verification needed].[12] In 1980, Irish-born engineer Mike Cooley invoked the same hierarchy in his critique of automation and computerization, in his book Architect or Bee?: The Human / Technology Relationship.[13][verification needed][12]

Thereafter, in 1987, Czechoslovakia-born educator Milan Zeleny mapped the elements of the hierarchy to knowledge forms: know-nothing, know-what, know-how, and know-why.[14][verification needed] Zeleny "has frequently been credited with proposing the [representation of DIKW as a pyramid]...although he actually made no reference to any such graphical model."[8]

The hierarchy appears again in a 1988 address to the International Society for General Systems Research, by American organizational theorist Russell Ackoff, published in 1989.[15] Subsequent authors and textbooks cite Ackoff's as the "original articulation"[1] of the hierarchy or otherwise credit Ackoff with its proposal.[16] Ackoff's version of the model includes an understanding tier (as Adler had, before him[8][17][18]), interposed between knowledge and wisdom. Although Ackoff did not present the hierarchy graphically, he has also been credited with its representation as a pyramid.[8][15]

In the same year as Ackoff presented his address, information scientist Anthony Debons and colleagues introduced an extended hierarchy, with "events", "symbols", and "rules and formulations" tiers ahead of data.[8][19]

In 1994 Nathan Shedroff presented the DIKW hierarchy in an information design context which later appeared as a book chapter. [20]

Jennifer Rowley noted in 2007 that there was "little reference to wisdom" in discussion of the DIKW in recently published college textbooks,[1] and does not include wisdom in her own definitions following that research.[16] Meanwhile, Zins' extensive analysis of the conceptualizations of data, information, and knowledge, in his recent research study, makes no explicit commentary on wisdom,[2] although some of the citations included by Zins do make mention of the term.[21][22][23]