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Term or phrase data
Language English
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Description of origin, manner, or change of usage Technically a plural, data has, since the 1940s, been increasingly treated as a mass noun taking a singular verb. But in more or less formal contexts it is preferably treated as a plural.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here. Garner, Bryan A., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), s.v. “data"
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here.
Century CE or BCE of origin, manner, or change of usage 20 CE
Years CE or BCE of relevance 1940 CE
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Description of origin, manner, or change of usage One context in which the singular use of data might be allowed is in computing and allied disciplines.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here. Garner, Bryan A., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), s.v. “data"
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here.
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Description of origin, manner, or change of usage In one particular use, data is rarely treated as a singular: when it begins a clause and is not preceded by the definite article.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here. Garner, Bryan A., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), s.v. “data"
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here.
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Description of origin, manner, or change of usage Because data can be either a plural count noun or a singular mass noun, both many data and much data are correct.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here. Garner, Bryan A., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), s.v. “data"
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here.
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Description of origin, manner, or change of usage The terms data, information and knowledge are frequently used for overlapping concepts. The main difference is in the level of abstraction being considered. Data is a broad term, embracing others, but is often the lowest level of abstraction, information is the next level and, finally, knowledge is the highest level.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. "Glossary of Public Sector Information and Open Data Terminology: All Terms," data.gov.uk, accessed June 25, 2016, https://data.gov.uk/glossary
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression Consider three phrases — now so commonplace as to be unremarkable — that we use to talk about data:
  • “Data Stream,” which refers to the delivery of many chunks of data over time;
  • “Data Mining,” which refers to what we do to get insightful information from data; and
  • “The Cloud,” which refers to a place where we store data.

These tropes are notable because they use distinct, physical metaphors to try to make sense of data within a specific context. What’s more, all three impute radically different physical properties to data. Depending on the situation, data is either like a liquid (data streams), a solid (data mining), or a gas (the cloud). Why and how these metaphors get used when they do is not immediately obvious. There are tons of alternatives: Data could be stored in a “data mountain,” or data could be made useful through a process of “data desalination.”

Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Hwang, Tim, and Karen Levy, “'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cloud-and-other-dangerous-metaphors/384518/
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Related terms and phrases data stream, data mining, cloud, the, trope, metaphor, impute, stream, mine, refer to, delivery, chunk, time, insight, store, physical, make sense of, context, impute, property, liquid, solid, gas, mountain, desalination
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression Referring to “data exhaust” — a term sometimes used to describe the metadata that are created in the course of day-to-day online lives — reinforces the idea that these data, like car exhaust, are unwanted byproducts, discarded waste material that society would benefit from putting to use. On the other hand, calling data “the new oil,” carries strong economic and social connotations: Data are costly to acquire and produced primarily for commercial or industrial ends, but bear the possibility of big payoffs for those with the means to extract it.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Hwang, Tim, and Karen Levy, “'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cloud-and-other-dangerous-metaphors/384518/ (links omitted)
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Related terms and phrases metadata, byproduct, exhaust, day-to-day, online, life, car, unwanted, discard, waste, material, society, put to use, oil, economic, social, connotation, costly, acquire, produce, commercial, industrial, end, payoff, means, extract
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression [I]n all our talk about streams and exhaust and mines and clouds, one thing is striking: People are nowhere to be found. These metaphors overwhelmingly draw from the natural world and the processes we use to draw resources from it; because of this, they naturalize and depersonalize data and its collection. Our current data metaphors do us a disservice by masking the human behaviors, relationships, and communications that make up all that data we’re streaming and mining. They make it easy to get lost in the quantity of the data without remembering how personal so much of it is. And if people forget that, it’s easy to understand how large-scale ethical breaches happen; the metaphors help us to lose track of what we’re really talking about.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Hwang, Tim, and Karen Levy, “'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cloud-and-other-dangerous-metaphors/384518/ (links omitted)
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Related terms and phrases metaphor, collection, ethical, breach, people, stream, exhaust, mine, cloud, overwhelm, natural, world, process, resource, naturalize, depersonalize, de-, personalize, disservice, dis-, service, mask, human, behavior, relationship, communication, quantity, personal, large-scale, lose track of
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression Perhaps the most apt popular metaphor that ties data to the body is the description of data as a digital footprint, fingerprint, or a shadow. These metaphors acknowledge the presence of a person, yet point to the disjuncture between the person and their remaining traces. Still, this comparison relies on the DATA IS A BYPRODUCT construct, and it emphasizes the meaningful information about who we are or where we’ve been that can be deduced from our traces.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Watson, Sara M., “Data is the New ‘___’: Sara M. Watson on the Industrial Metaphors of Big Data,” DIS Magazine, accessed October 9, 2015, http://dismagazine.com/discussion/73298/sara-m-watson-metaphors-of-big-data/
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Related terms and phrases metaphor, digital, footprint, fingerprint, shadow, byproduct, person, disjuncture, dis-, juncture, trace, construct, meaningful, information, deduce
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression DATA IS A MIRROR portrays data as something to reflect on and as a technology for seeing ourselves as others see us. But, like mirrors, data can be distorted, and can drive dysmorphic thought.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Watson, Sara M., “Data is the New ‘___’: Sara M. Watson on the Industrial Metaphors of Big Data,” DIS Magazine, accessed October 9, 2015, http://dismagazine.com/discussion/73298/sara-m-watson-metaphors-of-big-data/
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Related terms and phrases technology, distort, mirror, portray, reflect on, dysmorphic, thought
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression DATA IS A PRACTICE references the self-tracking process that has been criticized as navel-gazing, but which can also be a means of introspection and a practice toward self-knowledge. The quantified self motto “self-knowledge through numbers” is a misnomer; self-knowledge comes through the attentive process of choosing what to track and self-observation.
Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Watson, Sara M., “Data is the New ‘___’: Sara M. Watson on the Industrial Metaphors of Big Data,” DIS Magazine, accessed October 9, 2015, http://dismagazine.com/discussion/73298/sara-m-watson-metaphors-of-big-data/
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Related terms and phrases self-tracking, self-knowledge, self, track, self-observation, track, process, navel, gaze, introspection, practice, knowledge, self-, quantify, motto, number, misnomer, choose, observation
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression Today, when you decide to cook, the ingredients are readily available at local supermarkets or even already in your kitchen. You don't need to travel to a farm, collect eggs, mill the corn, cure the bacon etc - as you once would have done! Instead, thanks to standard systems of measurement, packaging, shipping (e.g. containerization) and payment ingredients can get from the farm direct to my local shop or even my door.

But with data we're still largely stuck at this early stage: every time you want to do an analysis or build an app you have to set off around the internet to dig up data, extract it, clean it and prepare it before you can even get it into your tool and begin your work proper.

What do we need to do for the working with data to be like cooking today - where you get to spend your time making the cake (creating insights) not preparing and collecting the ingredients (digging up and cleaning data)?

The answer: radical improvements in the logistics of data associated with specialisation and standardisation. In analogy with food we need standard systems of "measurement", packaging, and transport so that its easy to get data from its original source into the application where I can start working with it.

Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. "A Frictionless Data Ecosystem," Open Knowledge Foundation, accessed January 27, 2016, http://data.okfn.org/vision
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Related terms and phrases measurement, packaging, insight, logistics, specialization, standardization, cook, ingredient, supermarket, kitchen, travel, farm, collect, egg, mill, corn, cure, bacon, standard, system, package, ship, container, payment, early stage, stage, analysis, application, Internet, dig up, extract, clean, prepare, tool, cake, insight, radical
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Description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expression [T]here are such important differences between data today and oil a century ago that the comparison, while catchy, risks spreading a misunderstanding of how these new technology super-firms operate - and what to do about their power.

The first big difference is one of supply. There is a finite amount of oil in the ground, albeit that is still plenty, and we probably haven't found all of it. But data is virtually infinite. Its supply is super-abundant. In terms of basic supply, data is more like sunlight than oil: there is so much of it that our principal concern should be more what to do with it than where to find more, or how to share that which we've already found.

Is the text of the description a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Was the source of the description in print? If so, insert the source here.
Or was the source of the description online? If so, insert the source here. Rajan, Amol, “Data is not the new oil,” BBC News, October 9, 2017, accessed October 14, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41559076
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Related terms and phrases oil, catchy, misunderstanding, technology, firm, super-, power, supply, finite, ground, plenty, virtually, infinite, abundant, sunlight, share
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Definition Plural of datum, a fact or statistic. Hence data are records of observations. These might take a number of forms: for example, scores in IQ tests, interview records, fieldwork diaries, or taped interviews. All of these provide data, that is, observations from which inferences may be drawn, via analysis.
Dialects or regional variations
Is the text of the definition a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Source of definition in print Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall, eds., A Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), s.v. "data"
Significant terms and phrases plural, datum, fact, statistic, record, observation, form, score, intelligence quotient, IQ, test, interview, fieldwork, diary, tape, interview, inference, draw, analysis
Definition The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, which may be stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
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Is the text of the definition a quotation or a paraphrase of the source? quotation
Source of definition online "Glossary of Public Sector Information and Open Data Terminology: All Terms," data.gov.uk, accessed June 25, 2016, https://data.gov.uk/glossary
Significant terms and phrases quantity, character, symbol, operation, computer, medium, store, transmit, form, electrical, signal, record, magnetic, optical, mechanical
Translation equivalent données
Language French
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Sources of information in print Moureau, Magdeleine, and Gerald Brace, Comprehensive Dictionary of Petroleum Science and Technology: English-French, French-English, rev. ed. (Paris: Éditions Technip, 1993), s.v. “data”
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Translation equivalent datos
Language Spanish
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Sources of information in print Kohler, Eric L., Diccionario para contadores (México, D.F.: Limusa, 2002), 655
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Connections to this term or phrase

The following pages have some connection to "data": Big Data (English, noun), Blockchain for Agriculture: Improving Supply Chain Efficiency and Access to Finance for Smallholder Farmers, Calling all innovators! Help achieve ‘Good ID’ for the world’s invisible billion, Data Visualization Literacy: Plotting the Course Through Charted Waters, Data.World, Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v0.11, Empowering refugees and internally displaced persons through digital identity, Extensible Markup Language (English, noun), Friend of a Friend (English, noun), MyData (English, noun), MyData Global Network, New Global Findex data shows big opportunities for digital payments, Office of Educational Technology, United States Department of Education, Open Data (English, noun), Open Data Charter (G8), Open Data Institute, Open Data Research Network, Open Data Skills Framework (English, noun), Open Government Data (English, noun), Page Forms (English, noun), Public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems, Semantic MediaWiki (English, noun), Semantic Web (English, noun), Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language, The World Food Program: Fighting Hunger with Blockchain, The global identification challenge: Who are the 1 billion people without proof of identity?, United States Geological Survey, Web of Data (English, noun), Welcome to the future: blockchain and the sharing economy, Wikibase (English, noun), WikidataCon (2017), agent-based model (English, noun), byte (English, noun), community (English, noun), compact disk (English, noun), computer (English, noun), cultural literacy (English, noun), data aggregation (English, noun), data contextualization (English, noun), data democratization (English, noun), data infrastructure (English, noun), data integration (English, noun), data literacy (English, noun), data literate (English, adjective), data mirroring (English, noun), database (English, noun), datum (English, noun), electronic dictionary (English, noun), geographic information system (English, noun), hackathon (English, noun) … further results.

The following pages include "data" as an antecedent term or phrase: .

The following pages include "data" as a synonym: .

The following pages include "data" as a translation equivalent: datos (Spanish, noun).

Facts about "data (English, noun)"RDF feed
Has century20 CE +
Has connection to term or phraseplural +, mass +, noun +, mass noun +, singular +, verb +, formal +, context +, preferable +, computing +, ally +, discipline +, use +, rare +, clause +, definite article +, definite +, article +, precede +, count noun +, correct +, many +, much +, information +, knowledge +, abstraction +, overlap +, concept +, term +, level +, broad +, embrace +, data stream +, data mining +, cloud, the +, trope +, metaphor +, impute +, stream +, mine +, refer to +, delivery +, chunk +, time +, insight +, store +, physical +, make sense of +, property +, liquid +, solid +, gas +, mountain +, desalination +, metadata +, byproduct +, exhaust +, day-to-day +, online +, life +, car +, unwanted +, discard +, waste +, material +, society +, put to use +, oil +, economic +, social +, connotation +, costly +, acquire +, produce +, commercial +, industrial +, end +, payoff +, means +, extract +, collection +, ethical +, breach +, people +, cloud +, overwhelm +, natural +, world +, process +, resource +, naturalize +, depersonalize +, de- +, personalize +, disservice +, dis- +, service +, mask +, human +, behavior +, relationship +, communication +, quantity +, personal +, large-scale +, lose track of +, digital +, footprint +, fingerprint +, shadow +, person +, disjuncture +, juncture +, trace +, construct +, meaningful +, deduce +, technology +, distort +, mirror +, portray +, reflect on +, dysmorphic +, thought +, self-tracking +, self-knowledge +, self +, track +, self-observation +, navel +, gaze +, introspection +, practice +, self- +, quantify +, motto +, number +, misnomer +, choose +, observation +, measurement +, packaging +, logistics +, specialization +, standardization +, cook +, ingredient +, supermarket +, kitchen +, travel +, farm +, collect +, egg +, mill +, corn +, cure +, bacon +, standard +, system +, package +, ship +, container +, payment +, early stage +, stage +, analysis +, application +, Internet +, dig up +, clean +, prepare +, tool +, cake +, radical +, catchy +, misunderstanding +, firm +, super- +, power +, supply +, finite +, ground +, plenty +, virtually +, infinite +, abundant +, sunlight +, share +, datum +, fact +, statistic +, record +, form +, score +, intelligence quotient +, IQ +, test +, interview +, fieldwork +, diary +, tape +, inference +, draw +, character +, symbol +, operation +, computer +, medium +, transmit +, electrical +, signal +, magnetic +, optical + and mechanical +
Has definitionPlural of datum, a fact or statistic. HencPlural of datum, a fact or statistic. Hence data are records of observations. These might take a number of forms: for example, scores in IQ tests, interview records, fieldwork diaries, or taped interviews. All of these provide data, that is, observations from which inferences may be drawn, via analysis.ich inferences may be drawn, via analysis. and The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, which may be stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
Has description of metaphor, metonym, or other figurative expressionConsider three phrases — now so commonplacConsider three phrases — now so commonplace as to be unremarkable — that we use to talk about data:
  • “Data Stream,” which refers to the delivery of many chunks of data over time;
  • “Data Mining,” which refers to what we do to get insightful information from data; and
  • “The Cloud,” which refers to a place where we store data.

These tropes are notable because they use distinct, physical metaphors to try to make sense of data within a specific context. What’s more, all three impute radically different physical properties to data. Depending on the situation, data is either like a liquid (data streams), a solid (data mining), or a gas (the cloud). Why and how these metaphors get used when they do is not immediately obvious. There are tons of alternatives: Data could be stored in a “data mountain,” or data could be made useful through a process of “data desalination.” through a process of “data desalination.”, Referring to “data exhaust” — a term sometReferring to “data exhaust” — a term sometimes used to describe the metadata that are created in the course of day-to-day online lives — reinforces the idea that these data, like car exhaust, are unwanted byproducts, discarded waste material that society would benefit from putting to use. On the other hand, calling data “the new oil,” carries strong economic and social connotations: Data are costly to acquire and produced primarily for commercial or industrial ends, but bear the possibility of big payoffs for those with the means to extract it.fs for those with the means to extract it., [I]n all our talk about streams and exhaus[I]n all our talk about streams and exhaust and mines and clouds, one thing is striking: People are nowhere to be found. These metaphors overwhelmingly draw from the natural world and the processes we use to draw resources from it; because of this, they naturalize and depersonalize data and its collection. Our current data metaphors do us a disservice by masking the human behaviors, relationships, and communications that make up all that data we’re streaming and mining. They make it easy to get lost in the quantity of the data without remembering how personal so much of it is. And if people forget that, it’s easy to understand how large-scale ethical breaches happen; the metaphors help us to lose track of what we’re really talking about. track of what we’re really talking about., Perhaps the most apt popular metaphor thatPerhaps the most apt popular metaphor that ties data to the body is the description of data as a digital footprint, fingerprint, or a shadow. These metaphors acknowledge the presence of a person, yet point to the disjuncture between the person and their remaining traces. Still, this comparison relies on the DATA IS A BYPRODUCT construct, and it emphasizes the meaningful information about who we are or where we’ve been that can be deduced from our traces. been that can be deduced from our traces., DATA IS A MIRROR portrays data as something to reflect on and as a technology for seeing ourselves as others see us. But, like mirrors, data can be distorted, and can drive dysmorphic thought., DATA IS A PRACTICE references the self-traDATA IS A PRACTICE references the self-tracking process that has been criticized as navel-gazing, but which can also be a means of introspection and a practice toward self-knowledge. The quantified self motto “self-knowledge through numbers” is a misnomer; self-knowledge comes through the attentive process of choosing what to track and self-observation.oosing what to track and self-observation., Today, when you decide to cook, the ingredToday, when you decide to cook, the ingredients are readily available at local supermarkets or even already in your kitchen. You don't need to travel to a farm, collect eggs, mill the corn, cure the bacon etc - as you once would have done! Instead, thanks to standard systems of measurement, packaging, shipping (e.g. containerization) and payment ingredients can get from the farm direct to my local shop or even my door.

But with data we're still largely stuck at this early stage: every time you want to do an analysis or build an app you have to set off around the internet to dig up data, extract it, clean it and prepare it before you can even get it into your tool and begin your work proper.

What do we need to do for the working with data to be like cooking today - where you get to spend your time making the cake (creating insights) not preparing and collecting the ingredients (digging up and cleaning data)?

The answer: radical improvements in the logistics of data associated with specialisation and standardisation. In analogy with food we need standard systems of "measurement", packaging, and transport so that its easy to get data from its original source into the application where I can start working with it.ication where I can start working with it. and [T]here are such important differences bet[T]here are such important differences between data today and oil a century ago that the comparison, while catchy, risks spreading a misunderstanding of how these new technology super-firms operate - and what to do about their power.

The first big difference is one of supply. There is a finite amount of oil in the ground, albeit that is still plenty, and we probably haven't found all of it. But data is virtually infinite. Its supply is super-abundant. In terms of basic supply, data is more like sunlight than oil: there is so much of it that our principal concern should be more what to do with it than where to find more, or how to share that which we've already found.
w to share that which we've already found.
Has description of origin, manner, or change of usageTechnically a plural, data has, since the 1940s, been increasingly treated as a mass noun taking a singular verb. But in more or less formal contexts it is preferably treated as a plural., One context in which the singular use of data might be allowed is in computing and allied disciplines., In one particular use, data is rarely treated as a singular: when it begins a clause and is not preceded by the definite article., Because data can be either a plural count noun or a singular mass noun, both many data and much data are correct. and The terms data, information and knowledge The terms data, information and knowledge are frequently used for overlapping concepts. The main difference is in the level of abstraction being considered. Data is a broad term, embracing others, but is often the lowest level of abstraction, information is the next level and, finally, knowledge is the highest level., finally, knowledge is the highest level.
Has function in sentence or vocabularynoun +
Has languageEnglish +
Has quotation or paraphrasequotation +
Has source of information in printGarner, Bryan A., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), s.v. “data" +, Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall, eds., A Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), s.v. "data" +, Moureau, Magdeleine, and Gerald Brace, Comprehensive Dictionary of Petroleum Science and Technology: English-French, French-English, rev. ed. (Paris: Éditions Technip, 1993), s.v. “data” + and Kohler, Eric L., Diccionario para contadores (México, D.F.: Limusa, 2002), 655 +
Has source of information online"Glossary of Public Sector Information and Open Data Terminology: All Terms," data.gov.uk, accessed June 25, 2016, https://data.gov.uk/glossary +, Hwang, Tim, and Karen Levy, “'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cloud-and-other-dangerous-metaphors/384518/ +, Hwang, Tim, and Karen Levy, “'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cloud-and-other-dangerous-metaphors/384518/ (links omitted) +, Watson, Sara M., “Data is the New ‘___’: Sara M. Watson on the Industrial Metaphors of Big Data,” DIS Magazine, accessed October 9, 2015, http://dismagazine.com/discussion/73298/sara-m-watson-metaphors-of-big-data/ +, "A Frictionless Data Ecosystem," Open Knowledge Foundation, accessed January 27, 2016, http://data.okfn.org/vision + and Rajan, Amol, “Data is not the new oil,” BBC News, October 9, 2017, accessed October 14, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41559076 +
Has translation equivalentdonnées + and datos +
Has translation languageFrench + and Spanish +
Has year1940 CE +
Is term or phrasedata +